In the hope of discovering the
reasons for Hamlets distress, the king and queen decide to engineer
a meeting between him and Ophelia. Polonius asks her to pretend to be alone
whilst he and the king hide behind a tapestry. Hamlet enters and declaims
his famous monologue, To be or not to be, up until the moment
he notices Ophelia. He denies any love for her and advises her not to marry
and to enter a convent instead. Claudius now starts to believe that Hamlets
madness is not due to unrequited love and suspects that he might pose a threat
to his crown. He decides to get him out of the way by sending him to England.
Polonius suggests one final attempt at discovering the reasons for Hamlets
behavior by arranging a meeting with his mother, Gertrude.
Act Three, Scene Two
Having given his instructions to the actors, Hamlet asks Horatio to observe
the reactions of the king during the performance. The king, queen and their
court attend the performance. Hamlet, his head on Ophelias knees, prepares
to make comments to her about the play, which is preceded by a mimed summary
of the action, followed by some words addressed to the public by a character
called Prologue. The spoken play itself begins, stressing the
themes of treason, murder and incest. At the moment Lucianus pours poison
into the ear of the king Claudius rises and leaves the hall in anger, even
though Hamlet had forewarned him that the play would deal with the murder
of Duke Gonzago in Vienna.
Hamlet now believes he has received conformation that his father was murdered.
The king sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then Polonius, to convey his
mothers wish that they speak with each other. Hamlet declares his intention
to wreak vengeance on the king but decides not to take it out on his mother
other than in words.
Act Three, Scene Three
Claudius charges Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with escorting Hamlet to England.
Polonius goes to spy on Hamlets meeting with the queen. Left alone,
the king experiences remorse for his actions, and gets down on his knees to
pray and ask for forgiveness for his sins. Hamlet enters and could easily
kill the king, but refuses the opportunity as the king would go to heaven
if killed whilst praying.
Act Three, Scene Four
Polonius, hidden behind a hanging curtain, overhears the conversation between
Gertrude and Hamlet. Hamlets wild behavior and manner so frighten the
queen that she cries out for assistance. When Polonius makes a move, betraying
his presence, Hamlet kills him, believing him to be the king. He then admonishes
the queen for her unworthy behavior and loss of virtue. The ghost of the dead
king arrives and urges Hamlet to seek vengeance against the king but not to
add to the suffering of his mother.
Hamlet asks his mother to stop sharing Claudius bed, then shifts slightly
and suggests she meet and inform him of what has happened. He leaves the room,
dragging behind him the dead body of Polonius.