Hamlet Act IV

How is this scene ambiguous regarding Gertrude’s “conversion” from the previous scene? On the one hand, Gertrude still plays the role of the faithful queen, telling Claudius of Polonius’ murder. She does not object to Hamlet’s being sent to England, and she does not abide by Hamlet’s request to stay away from the kingOn the other hand, she does not report all of the details of her conversation with Hamlet, says he’s weeping with remorse, and there is no evidence to suggest that she knows the fate that awaits her son in England.
What is the apparent purpose of this brief scene (ii)? Does not advance plot, develop major characters or help establish theme. Additional wordplay for the audience’s amusement. Perhaps it helps establish R and G’s naivete and innocence: They do not understand Hamlet’s accusations, and they do not recognize his warning that Claudius will just discard them when he is finished.
Why can’t Claudius simply deal with Hamlet swiftly and harshly as allowed by law ? Hamlet is a very popular prince and Claudius does not want to antagonize the people of Denmark Perhaps he also does not want to “push” things with Gertrude and thinks he can keep the truth from her by having Hamlet assassinated in England. (think “Machiavellian”)
How does this scene advance Hamlet’s developing awareness of death? The whole Polonius-body episode focuses on the physical aspect of death. The body remains to return to the dust, to be eaten by worms, etc. Hamlet’s observation that a King’s body might end up feeding a peasant foreshadows the realization he will have in Act V, scene i that the fact of death makes all people equal.
Do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern know the true purpose of their journey to England ? No. They exit before Claudius informs the audience that he has written (and sealed) letters instructing the English King to execute Hamlet. Earlier Claudius claimed that the trip to England was for the purpose of collecting a tax that England owed to Denmark as well as hoping the sea voyage and change of scenery would do Hamlet’s mental state good. (again think “Machiavellian”)
What is the apparent purpose of thisbrief scene (iv)? Fortinbras is portrayed not as a hothead invading Denmark, but as a “delicate and tender prince.” Fortinbras’ intention to invade Poland and fight over a piece of worthless land, and Poland’s intention to defend it again highlights Hamlet’s inactivity. Hamlet has a more concrete call to action and has taken none. (think foil)
What important information does Claudius reveal? The people of Denmark are grumbling and in turmoil over the death of Polonius. Polonius was buried quickly without any ceremony befitting a man of his rank. Laertes has secretly entered Denmark, has kept himself in hiding, and has been rousing the people against Claudius.
What do they assume is the cause of Ophelia’s apparent madness? They assume that Ophelia’s madness is a combination of the stresses of her father’s death, Hamlet’s being sent away, and the fact that Hamlet is her father’s killer.
Why do you suppose Ophelia’s madness takes on the form it does? She enters singing vulgar songs aboutcountry girls losing their virginity. She is enacting the assumptions the men in her life have made about her/the accusations they’ve made: In the nunnery scene, Hamlet accused Ophelia of being a wh*re, a seductress, and a temptress. In the play-within-a-play scene he assaults her again with vulgar jokes Laertes and her father, Polonius, both warned her about surrendering her virtue to Hamlet.
Describe Laertes’ response to his father’s death. How is he a foil for Hamlet? Laertes is in a rage and intent upon revenge. Because Laertes is able to quickly gather a small army of supporters, the implication is that Hamlet (who is so popular) could have unseated Claudius. Laertes contrasts with Hamlet because he focuses his energy on action while Hamlet’s energy is focused on thought.
How do the flowers Ophelia distributes relate to their characters and their actions? fennel = unfaithfulnesscolumbines = unfaithfulnessrue = repentancedaisy = unrequited love
What news is revealed in Hamlet’s letter to Horatio? What does this show about Hamlet? The ship bringing Hamlet to England was attacked by pirates. The pirates are bringing Hamlet back to Denmark. He was clever enough to have negotiated this arrangement.
What will happen to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Hamlet has opened the sealed letters that decreed his death and changed them to order the death of the bearer of the letters (R & G).
How does this episode illustrate the role of coincidence in Shakespearean tragedy? Hamlet just happens to have the king’s seal with him so he can open and reseal the letters. The ship just happens to be attacked by pirates. Deus ex Machina (Shakespeare needed a way to getHamlet back to Denmark).
Why does Claudius tell Laertes he will not kill Hamlet himself? The Queen loves her son and since the king loves the Queen, he will not hurt her. The people love Hamlet too much and he would not “get away” with it.
In Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s drowning, what suggests that Ophelia committed suicide? After falling into the water, Ophelia does not call out for help or take any action to help herself.
In Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s drowning, what suggests that Ophelia’s death was an accident? Gertrude decides her falling into the water was apparently accidental. A branch broke while she was hanging a garland of flowers, and she fell in. Gertrude also points out that Ophelia did not seem to have any idea of the danger she was in while she sang old songs and sank into the water.

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