Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Analysis of Act IV, Scene 7

This scene shows Claudius at his most devious and calculating. He works hard to overcome Laertes’ anger and get him to agree to a clear plan to kill Hamlet, instead of merely rushing off to avenge his father’s death. The plan itself plays on the themes of revenge, poisoning, and traps: it involves not only one, but three different ways by which Hamlet may be killed, two of which involve poison and all of which are done in secret.

News of Ophelia’s death comes at the worst possible time for Claudius’s plans. As Laertes rushes out of the room, Claudius follows, not to console him but to make sure this isn’t the thing that pushes Laertes over the edge into uncontrollable rage. Claudius is too busy trying to control the increasing threats to his own power to care much about the victims of the downward spiral into chaos.

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