Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Summary of Act IV, Scene 3

Claudius begins “damage control” by explaining to a group of courtiers how Polonius has died and Hamlet is to be sent to England. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive, escorting Hamlet. When Claudius questions Hamlet about the location of Polonius’s body, Hamlet resorts to a series of word games, telling Claudius that Polonius is being eaten by worms and that Claudius is welcome to send a messenger to heaven to look for Polonius or to go to hell himself to look for him there. Finally, Hamlet reveals that he has stuffed the body in a closet under the stairs in the hall. Claudius tells Hamlet he must leave for England at once, to which Hamlet enthusiastically agrees. Unbeknownst to Hamlet, however, the orders Claudius has sent with him ask the king of England to put Hamlet to death.

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