Hamlet’s Act 4 scene one is paramount in the development of the plot as well as development of characters.  The retributive code is indispensable for Hamlet to revenge and seek vengeance for the deeds of others. In fact, it is the revenge code that causes Hamlet’s fate and problems.

Summary

Queen Gertrude speaks with King Claudius. She informs the king of Polonius’s murder. Claudius is shocked beyond dismay and considers that Hamlet would have possibly killed him had he been in the murder’s scene. However, Gertrude lies to Claudius that Hamlet is insane. Claudius, now terrified of Hamlet, plans to send him away to England. In addition, the king sends two courtiers Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to talk to Hamlet so that they can work out where Polonius body is hidden.

Act IV scene 1

The scene focuses on Gertrude betraying Hamlet, her son. Gertrude turns Hamlets in to Claudius despite her earlier promises to help Hamlet.   While Gertrude does not reveal to the King about Hamlet’s pretense behavior, the frank manner in which Gertrude tells the king about Hamlet killing Polonius suggests she is the king’s ally. It becomes impossible to tell whether Gertrude believes her son is insane or not.  Perhaps, Gertrude seems to believe in Hamlet, but has acknowledged that her unsurpassed interest depends on forming an alliance with Claudius.

As aforementioned, this scene is pivotal in developing the characters. For example, this scene portrays King Hamlet, Hamlet, Fortnbras and Laertes as obsessed with retributive justice, moral balance and honor. The themes of retributive justice and moral balance in act 4 scene I also run through the play. By contrast Kling, Claudius is selfish and ambitions character who prefers maintaining the status quo to achieving justice via his rule. He says “Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain” (Shakespeare 4:I, p.30) When Gertrude narrates to him about Polonius sudden death, Claudius imagines that he would have been the most vulnerable had he been in the room. Instead of considering how Gertrude has escaped danger, He seems to be extremely personal.

Claudius remarks that Hamlet must go away because he has become threat to Claudius, the people and Gertrude. Instead of seeking justice and because he fears political crisis, Claudius strategizes to send Hamlet to Denmark and meet his death there. Sending Hamlet away requires all skill and his majesty (Shakespeare 4: I,  p.30). Thus, Shakespeare depicts in King Claudius a singularly ambitious politician. Consequently, Claudius comes out as a powerful figure in contrast to Laerates, Horatio and Hamlet who are more forthright and morally conscious.

Before Hamlet kills Polonius, the audience considers him a hero. Hamlet is previously reflective and sensitive. However, his killing Polonius raises questions about his moral behavior. Like Claudius who killed King Hamlet, prince Hamlet does exactly by killing Polonius. This creates the picture that Hamlet is no different from Claudius. Hamlet’s inherit trait has disappeared and replaced by aggressiveness and violent against other characters.

It is Hamlet’s occasional impulsiveness that leads him to stab Polonius. Hamlets impulsiveness is the source of destruction and death of those he loves. This scene (Shakespeare Act 4: I) helps develop the conflicts and relationships between the main character and the foils.  The audience gets to know why Hamlet acts the way he is acting. The mother undecidedly believes hamlet is mad. While Claudius shows concerns about Hamlet’s wellbeing, he is himself afraid of Hamlet’s revenge.

It is worthy noting that Hamlet’s crime of killing differs from that Claudius in that Hamlet’s killing of Polonius is not premeditated or due to ambition and jealousy.Polonius eavesdropped on Hamlet for Claudius. Nonetheless, Hamlet’s conscious ceases afterwards. Nonetheless, the way Gertrude explains Polonius accidental killing demonstrates her own ambiguities and ambivalence. She explains the incident in inflammatory manner, making her appear suspicious about her role in king Hamlet’s death. The audience knows not whether Gertrude believes her son has become mad or not. Her protectiveness of Hamlet is doubtful.

When Hamlets meets Prince Fortinbras on his way to England, Hamlet observes that Fortinbras’s battle is petty. However, Fortinbrass commitment motivates Hamlet to return to Denmark and accomplish what he did not start.

At the final of the play, Hamlet is responsible for the death of Polonius, Claudius, Laertes, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. He is indirectly implicated in Gertrude and Ophelia’s deaths. Act IV is the climax of the play. This is the point at which hamlet changes his attitudes. His thoughts have become bloody. From previous acts, Hamlet portrays moral principles. He is reluctant to associate with evil, and this way he is indecisive about his father’s death revenge.

Hamlet centers on the problems stemming from death, betrayal and love without giving the audience or the viewers a positive and decisive answer to these problems. This is because, for Hamlet’s world, there is no definitive resolution to life’s serious daunting questions. In other words, the world hamlet is living in is one of continuous ambiguity. While those around Hamlet can act upon their feelings, he is smothered by his devouring insecurities. Hamlet seems to doubt his thoughts every scene and, thus, ends up indecisive to act.

Bad stuff can occur to good persons with just one fatal mistake. From the beginning, hamlet is a good man. He attempts to revenge his father’s murder like any other good son. However, his feeling of vengeance gets hold of him leading to the death of others. Hamlet remains doubtful whether the Father’s ghost is telling him the reality.

Without doubt, Claudius is the source of Hamlet’s endless problems. Claudius is the bad character of the play. After killing king Hamlet, Claudius goes a head to plant eavesdrops on Hamlet. Hamlet stabs Polonius thinking Polonius is King Claudius. The same Claudius arranges Hamlet’s departure to England with the aim to have Hamlet killed.

Gertrude labels Hamlet as mad before the king to justify the behaviors of her son. She says “Mad as the sea and wind” (Shakespeare 4: I). in one hand, she betrays hamlet and on the other hand; she lies to the king that Hamlet is insane. Thus, it is not possible to prove or conclude that hamlet is mad or not.  The audience is left wondering if hamlet is emotionally disturbed. This paradox insinuates the significant of Hamlet’s duality.  He keeps delaying to execute his revenge, yet he accepts that avenging his father’s death is his duty. Hamlet is torn between good and evil. He must be evil to able to execute his revenge. He is a man with dual human nature that is both wicked and noble. Hamlet makes several comparisons in the play to prove the existence of this duality. Hamlet contrasts Claudius and his dead father. King Hamlet is an ideal politician, magnanimous and just. By contrast, Claudius is a lustful adulterer and unscrupulous killer. Similarly, Hamlet contrasts his mother’s sins with his father’s virtuous.

As Claudius plans to banish Hamlet, the king observes “disease desperate grown” (Shakespeare 4, ii, p.9). The implication and meaning of this is that the King is not only facing the risk of Hamlet’s revenge but also bothered by Hamlet’s madness. Hamlet’s killing of Polonius provokes Claudius to act. This sets the platform for a series of events that result in hastening Hamlet’s exile as well as the blood-spattered climax. Moreover, Hamlet’s having killed Polonius works to King Claudius’ advantage. This implies that Hamlet must be punished. Claudius regrets for not have acted to restrain Hamlet’s madness.

Hamlet is undeniably the most dramatic character in the play. His elegant intensity never ceases to amaze the audience. He is a man full of radical juxtapositions.  He meets the death of his father with righteous indignation and devouring outrage. However, he demonstrates no regret for killing Polonius, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.

Conclusion

Act IV scene (i) is central to the development of the characters and the play plot. It marks the climax of the play Hamlet. It is at this point that Prince hamlet changes his attitudes. The foils Claudius, Gertrude, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz help reveal Hamlet’s personality. Hamlet’s actions make him appear as mad and insane. He stabs the spying Polonius, thinking that Polonius is Claudius. Hamlet’s Act IV scene 1 is paramount in the development of the plot as well as development of characters.  The retributive code is indispensable for Hamlet to revenge and seek vengeance for the deeds of others. In fact, it is the revenge code that causes Hamlet’s fate and problems. Act IV scene (i) is the shortest of the scenes in the Play Hamlet, but with the strongest motifs.

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