Act 4

Scene 1

Time: Shortly after scene 4, act 3

Location: A room in the castle

Characters: King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
 

Gertrude tells King Claudius about the encounter with Hamlet, his outburst of rage, and the resulting murder of Polonius. Claudius immediately realizes that the assassination attempt was actually aimed at himself. He asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to talk to Hamlet as soon as possible. He also asks them to find Polonius' body and bring it to the chapel. In the meantime, he wants to make sure that he and Gertrude cannot be connected with the murder.

Scene 2

Time: Shortly after scene 1

Location: A room in the castle

Characters: Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern seek out Hamlet to learn from him where he has taken Polonius' body. Hamlet, however, shows little cooperation, answers only with confused statements and calls his old friends sponges who are only interested in soaking up the king's orders. He willingly lets them lead him to Claudius.

Scene 3

Time: Immediately after Scene 2

Location: A different room in the castle than in Scene 2.

Characters: King Claudius, entourage, Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
 

Claudius is extremely disturbed by the fact that Hamlet is still free. However, he does not feel able to judge him harshly in public because Hamlet is a favorite of the Danish people. Instead, he wants to send him to England as soon as possible. When Hamlet is led to him, he orders him to hurry to a ship ready for departure and to tell him the hiding place of Polonius' body. His nephew obeys both orders.

After Hamlet has left Claudius again, Claudius reveals in a soliloqu...

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