Summary: plot IV, scene vii

As Horatio speaks to the sailors, Claudius and a quieter Laertes comment on Polonius’s death. Claudius describes that the acted as he did, burying Polonius secretly and also not punishing Hamlet because that the murder, since both the usual people and the queen love Hamlet really much. As a king and as a husband, he did no wish to uncomfortable either of them. A messenger enters with the letter native Hamlet to Claudius, which educates the king the Hamlet will certainly return tomorrow. Laertes is pleased that Hamlet has actually come ago to Denmark, because it method that his revenge will not be delayed.

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Claudius agrees the Laertes deserves to it is in revenged ~ above Hamlet, and also he is disposed come encourage Laertes to death Hamlet, due to the fact that Hamlet’s erratic habits has made him a risk to Claudius’s reign. The devious king starts to think that a means for Laertes to ensure his revenge without creating any type of appearance the foul play. He recalls the Hamlet has actually been jealousy in the previous of Laertes’ prowess v a sword, i m sorry was recently praised before all the court through a Frenchman who had actually seen him in combat. The king speculates that if Hamlet might be tempted into a duel with Laertes, it might administer Laertes with the chance to kill him. Laertes agrees, and also they resolve on a plan. Laertes will use a sharpened sword quite than the customary dull fencing blade. Laertes likewise proposes to toxicity his sword, therefore that even a scrape from it will kill Hamlet. The king concocts a backup arrangement as well, proposing the if Hamlet succeeds in the duel, Claudius will offer him a poisoned cup the wine come drink from in celebration.

Gertrude enters through tragic news. Ophelia, mad through grief, has drowned in the river. Anguished to have actually lost his sisters so quickly after his father’s death, Laertes to escape the room. Claudius summons Gertrude come follow. He tells her it was practically impossible come quiet Laertes’ rage, and worries that the news of Ophelia’s fatality will reawaken it.

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Analysis

The scheming Claudius meet Laertes at approximately the same moment as the learns the Hamlet has actually survived and also returned come Denmark. Claudius’s habits throughout this scene, together in ActIV, scene v, shows him in ~ his most devious and calculating. Shakespeare reflects Claudius’s mind working overtime to derail Laertes’ anger, which is thus far the greatest an obstacle his kingship has faced. In act IV, step v, Claudius chose that the means to appease Laertes to be by appearing frank and honest. Once Laertes asked furiously where his dad was, Claudius replied, “Dead” (IV.v.123). Additionally, in a masterful punch of characterization, Shakespeare has actually the worried Gertrude, can not to see Claudius’s plan, monitor this statement v a fast insistence ~ above Claudius’s innocence: “But no by him” (IV.v.123).

In this scene, Claudius has clearly decided the he deserve to appease Laertes’ wrath and also dispense through Hamlet in a solitary stroke: he hits upon the idea that the duel in order to usage Laertes’ fury to for sure Hamlet’s death. The resulting setup brings both the layout of revenge and the recurring use of traps in the plot to a brand-new height—Laertes and Claudius concoct no one however three surprise mechanisms through which Hamlet might be killed.

Ophelia’s tragic fatality occurs in ~ the worst feasible moment for Claudius. As Laertes flees the room in agony, Claudius follows, no to console or also to sign up with him in mourning yet because, together he tells Gertrude, it was so complicated to appease his fury in the first place. Claudius walk not have time come worry about the victims of tragedy—he is too busy managing threats come his very own power.

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The image of Ophelia drowned amid her garlands that flowers has actually proved to be one of the most enduring pictures in the play, represented countless times by artists and poets transparent the centuries. Ophelia is associated with flower imagery from the start of the play. In her an initial scene, Polonius presents her through a violet; after ~ she walk mad, she sings songs about flowers; and now she drowns amid long streams of them. The delicate beauty of the flower resembles Ophelia’s own vulnerable beauty, as well as her nascent sexuality and also her exquisite, doomed innocence.