Gertrude is now convinced that her son is in the grip of madness,
and informs the king of the death of Polonius. The king realizes that he probably
was Hamlets target and tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to leave immediately
for England with Hamlet.
Act Four, Scene Two
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to discover where Hamlet has hidden Polonius
body. Hamlet mocks them and refuses to answer. Nevertheless he agrees to meet
Act Four, Scene Three
Hamlet refuses to answer the kings questions but pretends to be happy
to go into exile. Left alone, Claudius reveals that he has ordered that Hamlet
be executed on his arrival in England.
Act Four, Scene Four
Before leaving for England, Hamlet meets Fortinbras, who is crossing Denmark
to battle for barren lands. Musing on the futility of this action, considering
what is at stake, Hamlet, who has to avenge the death of his father and his
mothers dishonoring, reproaches his own inactivity. (Fourth soliloquy:
"How all occasions do inform against me.")
Act Four, Scene Five
Ophelia arrives, driven mad by the death of her father and the loss of Hamlet.
The queen tries to reason with her, but she says nothing, contenting herself
with singing lovers laments.
Laertes arrives from France demanding to learn the truth about the circumstances
of his fathers death and why he didnt receive a state funeral.
Just at the moment the king is preparing to explain, Ophelia enters the room.
Realizing what has befallen his sister Laertes promises to punish those responsible
for his fathers death.
Act Four, Scene Six
Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet in which he describes how his ship
had been attacked by pirates, who spared him after receiving assurance that
they would be received by the king of Denmark. Hamlet informs Horatio that
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are still on their way to England.
Act Four, Scene Seven
Claudius holds Hamlet responsible for the death of Polonius and Ophelias
madness, and tells Laertes the reasons which pushed him to spare Hamlet; apart
from the affection of his mother, Hamlet has the support of the people. A
messenger arrives and announces Hamlets return. The king considers stratagems
and suggests that Laertes provoke his nephew into a duel.
Laertes accepts the kings proposition and announces his intention to
coat the end of his sword with a deadly poison. In addition the king will
offer Hamlet a poisoned goblet during the duel. The queen enters and announces
the death of Ophelia, who has drowned.