List iconHamlet:
Act 4, scene 1
List icon

Act 4, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Events before the start of Hamlet set the stage for tragedy. When the king of Denmark, Prince Hamlet’s father, suddenly dies, Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 1

On the guards’ platform at Elsinore, Horatio waits with Barnardo and Marcellus to question a ghost that has twice before…

Act 1, scene 2

In an audience chamber in Elsinore, Claudius, the new king of Denmark, holds court. After thanking his courtiers for their…

Act 1, scene 3

In Polonius’s chambers, Laertes says good-bye to his sister, Ophelia, and tells her not to trust Hamlet’s promises of love….

Act 1, scene 4

While Claudius drinks away the night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are visited by the Ghost. It signals to Hamlet. Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 5

The Ghost tells Hamlet a tale of horror. Saying that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, he demands that…

Act 2, scene 1

Polonius sends his servant Reynaldo to Paris to question Laertes’s acquaintances. Ophelia enters, deeply disturbed about a visit she has…

Act 2, scene 2

Claudius and Gertrude set Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him. When Hamlet himself enters,…

Act 3, scene 1

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and…

Act 3, scene 2

Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the…

Act 3, scene 3

Claudius orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. Polonius tells Claudius of his plans to spy on Hamlet’s…

Act 3, scene 4

In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius…

Act 4, scene 1

Gertrude reports Polonius’s death to Claudius, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and recover the body.

Act 4, scene 2

Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where he has put Polonius’s body.

Act 4, scene 3

Hamlet is brought to Claudius, who tells him that he is to leave immediately for England. Alone, Claudius reveals that…

Act 4, scene 4

Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Fortinbras’s vigorous activity a model…

Act 4, scene 5

Reports reach Gertrude that Ophelia is mad. Ophelia enters singing about death and betrayal. After Ophelia has gone, Claudius agonizes…

Act 4, scene 6

Horatio is given a letter from Hamlet telling of the prince’s boarding of a pirate ship and his subsequent return…

Act 4, scene 7

Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet announcing the prince’s return. Claudius enlists Laertes’s willing help in devising another plot against…

Act 5, scene 1

Hamlet, returned from his journey, comes upon a gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet tries to find out who the…

Act 5, scene 2

In the hall of the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king’s plot against him and how he…

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Scene 1
Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and

 There’s matter in these sighs; these profound heaves
 You must translate; ’tis fit we understand them.
 Where is your son?
 [Bestow this place on us a little while.]
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
5 Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen tonight!
KING What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
 Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
 Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,
 Behind the arras hearing something stir,
10 Whips out his rapier, cries “A rat, a rat,”
 And in this brainish apprehension kills
 The unseen good old man.
KING  O heavy deed!
 It had been so with us, had we been there.
15 His liberty is full of threats to all—
 To you yourself, to us, to everyone.
 Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
 It will be laid to us, whose providence

ACT 4. SC. 1

 Should have kept short, restrained, and out of haunt
20 This mad young man. But so much was our love,
 We would not understand what was most fit,
 But, like the owner of a foul disease,
 To keep it from divulging, let it feed
 Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?
25 To draw apart the body he hath killed,
 O’er whom his very madness, like some ore
 Among a mineral of metals base,
 Shows itself pure: he weeps for what is done.
KING O Gertrude, come away!
30 The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch
 But we will ship him hence; and this vile deed
 We must with all our majesty and skill
 Both countenance and excuse.—Ho, Guildenstern!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

 Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
35 Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
 And from his mother’s closet hath he dragged him.
 Go seek him out, speak fair, and bring the body
 Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
 Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends
40 And let them know both what we mean to do
 And what’s untimely done.
 [Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter,
 As level as the cannon to his blank
 Transports his poisoned shot, may miss our name
45 And hit the woundless air.] O, come away!
 My soul is full of discord and dismay.
They exit.