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Hamlet
Act 4, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET Safely stowed.
GENTLEMEN, within Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
HAMLET But soft, what noise? Who calls on Hamlet?
 O, here they come.

Enter Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.

ROSENCRANTZ 
5 What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
HAMLET 
 Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Tell us where ’tis, that we may take it thence
 And bear it to the chapel.
HAMLET Do not believe it.
ROSENCRANTZ 10Believe what?
HAMLET That I can keep your counsel and not mine
 own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge, what
 replication should be made by the son of a king?
ROSENCRANTZ Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
HAMLET 15Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s countenance,
 his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the
 King best service in the end. He keeps them like an
 ape an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed,
 to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have
20 gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you
 shall be dry again.
ROSENCRANTZ I understand you not, my lord.
HAMLET I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a
 foolish ear.
ROSENCRANTZ 25My lord, you must tell us where the
 body is and go with us to the King.
HAMLET The body is with the King, but the King is not
 with the body. The King is a thing—

195
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 3

GUILDENSTERN A “thing,” my lord?
HAMLET 30Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and
 all after!
They exit.