Hamlet Act 4, Summary/Key Events

Act IV, Scene I Summary Gertrude reports Polonius’s death to Claudius, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and recover the body.
Whom does Gertrude rush to see after Polonius is killed? Claudus
What does Gertrude compare herself to? The violent ocean
What is Claudius’s main concern? Keeping his power
What does Hamlet accuse Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of? Being spies for Claudius
What does Hamlet allow Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do? Accompany him back to Claudius
Act IV, Scene 2 Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz ad Guildenstern where he has put Polonius’s body.
Act IV, Scene 3 Hamlet is brought to Claudius, who tells him that he is to leave immediately for England. Alone, Claudius reveals that he is sending Hamlet to his death.
Who reveals the location of Polonius’s body? Hamlet
What orders does Claudius send to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? That Hamlet be killed
What is Fortinbras doing when he comes across Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern? He is on his way to attack Poland
Why is Hamlet surprised by the nature of the conflict between Poland and Norway? Because the conflict seems so insignificant
What does Hamlet resolve to do after meeting Fortinbras? Achieve his revenge
Act IV, Scene 4 Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Forinbras’s vigorous activity a model for himself in avenging his father’s murder; Hamlet resolves upon bloody action
Act IV, Scene 5 Summary Reports meet Gertrude that Ophelia is mad. Ophelia enters singing about death and betrayal. After Ophelia has gone, Claudius agonizes over her madness and over the stir created by the return of an angry Laertes. When Laertes breaks in on Claudius and Gertrude, Claudius asserts his innocence regard to Polonius’s death. The reappearance of the mad Ophelia is devastating to Laertes.
How does Ophelia handle the news of Polonius’s death? She goes crazy
What does Horatio urge Gertrude to do? Console Ophelia
How do the peasants feel about Laertes upon his return? They feel that he ought to be king
What advice does Claudius give to Laertes? That he should seek revenge on whoever is responsible for Polonius’s death
What does Hamlet’s letter to Horatio say? That he is returning to Denmark with news
Act IV, Scene 6 Horatio is given a letter from Hamlet telling of the prince’s boarding of a pirate ship and his subsequent return to Denmark.
Act IV, Scene 7 Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet announcing the prince’s return. Claudius enlists Laertes’s willing help in devising another plot against Hamlet’s life. Laertes agrees to kill Hamlet with a poisoned rapier in a fencing match. If he fails, Claudius will give Hamlet a poisoned cup of wine. Gertrude interrupts their plotting to announce that Ophelia has drowned.
Why doesn’t Claudius punish Hamlet? Because too many people adore Hamlet
Why is Laertes happy about Hamlet’s return to Denmark? Because he plans to kill him
When does Laertes plan to kill Hamlet? At a fencing match
What do Laertes and Claudius plan to do if Hamlet wins the duel? Poison him with a cup of wine
How does Ophelia die? She drowns in a river