Hamlet on a warpath

In the end of act 3 we see a Hamlet who has made a terrible mistake by killing Polonius.  Not saying that Polonius didn’t get what he deserved because in my opinion he was a snitch and a suck up to Claudius.  But, we see that Hamlet finally got some courage to make a deathly blow to Claudius to no avail.  The courage that Hamlet has desired, and expressed in act 3, has been suppressed once again.  Until we reach the 4th act when Hamlet talks with Young Fortinbras’ Captain and how they were asking for permission to travel through to fight for a small piece of land.  This battle that Hamlet contemplates gives him, in a way, more courage to take action. 

Hamlet sees that it is in human nature to get revenge and fight for something no matter how small or insignificant.  This revelation helps him make a vow to himself that “O, From this time forth/ My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!” (4.4. 9.55-6).  He takes a stand that saying nothing he does or says from this point out is going to be anything but for his revenge of his father.  I believe that this is a reinforcement of getting the courage to enact revenge.  As we know, Hamlet is a character that sits on the fence.  He sways back and forth from what he really wants or how he really feels, and this is something that even transfers over to be one of the most important parts of his life.  This encounter with Fortinbras’ Captain is the final chance for him to get out, or for his plans to fall through.  Even though he has been working at this, this is the last time he is going to get up the courage to act on his feelings.  

Not only is Hamlet on a mission from here on out, but his actions have awakened fury in others as well.  Laertes is an example of what Hamlet strives to be, vengeful on the drop of a hat.  Laertes coming home is bad news bears for Hamlet because he has to watch over his shoulder.  He escapes going back to England, which was certain death, and stays home, which is also a dangerous place with Laertes after him.  These threats will all be resolved by the end of the play based on Hamlets certain enthusiasm for revenge and open mind to drama. 

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2 thoughts on “Hamlet on a warpath

  1. gagnonr1

    Polonius may appear to be stuck up or a snitch, but it also seems likely that he’s attempting to control his environment through manipulation instead of servitude. Polonius is probably the most intelligent character in Hamlet (as in he is the most aware of the reality of the situation of the world) so when he reveals information it most likely has a purpose and a timing behind it. His fear of Ophelia’s relations with Hamlet drive him to engage Claudius’ mind and make him inclined to view Hamlet’s disposition in a certain light. If Polonius was stuck up, he would be doing this for personal gain (perhaps a way to increase his status/power). However, it can be seen that Polonius is trying to protect his daughter, and even Laertes, from an environment which Polonius knows no one is safe. Think of the relationship Polonius had with the previous King, and the information he holds about his death. Polonius is more powerful than we sometimes realize.

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  2. Michelle D.

    I like both points being made here. Polonius is in the position, as others have been in Shakespeare’s plays, to be the kind of devious evil counterpart to the heroin of the play. But he isn’t here, not that much. There’s definitely a portrayal of him (depending heavily as well on the interpretation/performance) that would follow suit to the self-serving, trying to rise on the ladder, evil-genius type. But I personally see him as a sneaky, conniving, obnoxious character. He’s like the assistant to the mastermind (and Claudius isn’t even really that), they tend to be viewed as pathetic in a way and that’s really what I get from Polonius.
    I also think the point of Laertes really pushing Hamlet’s plans forward to be an honest statement. He is kind of an inspiration in that sense and an example of what Hamlet’s enthusiasm should be.
    (***And unrelated side-note: I love the “bad news bears” comment.)

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