Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Analysis of Act IV, Scene 3

Hamlet’s apparently-unhinged state of mind in the previous scene continues here, as Claudius asks him where Polonius’s body is and Hamlet responds with a series of comments about worms. However, the nature of his comments has taken a decidedly darker tone. While before Hamlet was pretending to be insane in a light, almost comical way, in this scene he actively taunts Claudius. It is as if Hamlet is actually descending into irrationality or that he no longer cares if he’s actually deceiving Claudius – or both.

It no longer seems to matter whether Claudius knows whether or not Hamlet is actually insane, either, because Claudius’s plan is to have Hamlet killed when he reaches England – no matter what. The fact that Claudius decides to ship Hamlet to England to have him killed instead of just killing him in Denmark also underlines Claudius’s obsession with politics and image; he states that he is currently “loved of the distracted multitude” and wishes to keep things that way.

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