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Hamlet
Act 4, scene 3

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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 3
Enter King and two or three.

KING 
 I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
 How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
 Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
 He’s loved of the distracted multitude,
5 Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
 And, where ’tis so, th’ offender’s scourge is weighed,
 But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even,
 This sudden sending him away must seem
 Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
10 By desperate appliance are relieved
 Or not at all.

Enter Rosencrantz.

 How now, what hath befallen?
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord,
 We cannot get from him.
KING 15 But where is he?
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
KING 
 Bring him before us.
ROSENCRANTZ  Ho! Bring in the lord.

They enter with Hamlet.

KING Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
HAMLET 20At supper.

197
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 3

KING At supper where?
HAMLET Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A
 certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at
 him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We
25 fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
 for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is
 but variable service—two dishes but to one table.
 That’s the end.
[KING Alas, alas!
HAMLET 30A man may fish with the worm that hath eat
 of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that
 worm.]
KING What dost thou mean by this?
HAMLET Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
35 progress through the guts of a beggar.
KING Where is Polonius?
HAMLET In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger
 find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other
 place yourself. But if, indeed, you find him not
40 within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
 the stairs into the lobby.
KING, to Attendants. Go, seek him there.
HAMLET He will stay till you come.Attendants exit.
KING 
 Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety
45 (Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
 For that which thou hast done) must send thee
 hence
 With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
 The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
50 Th’ associates tend, and everything is bent
 For England.
HAMLET For England?
KING Ay, Hamlet.
HAMLET Good.
KING 
55 So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.

199
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 4

HAMLET 
 I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for
 England.
 Farewell, dear mother.
KING  Thy loving father, Hamlet.
HAMLET 
60 My mother. Father and mother is man and wife,
 Man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.—
 Come, for England.He exits.
KING 
 Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
 Delay it not. I’ll have him hence tonight.
65 Away, for everything is sealed and done
 That else leans on th’ affair. Pray you, make haste.
All but the King exit.
 And England, if my love thou hold’st at aught
 (As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
 Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
70 After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
 Pays homage to us), thou mayst not coldly set
 Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
 By letters congruing to that effect,
 The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England,
75 For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
 And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,
 Howe’er my haps, my joys will ne’er begin.
He exits.