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Hamlet Act IV, Scene iii Summary

  • Now it's Claudius's turn to demand that Hamlet tell him where Polonius's corpse is.
  • Hamlet responds with morbid jokes, pointing out that Polonius is at "supper" —that is, he's being eaten by worms for dinner. Charming.
  • Hamlet, again speaking in the veiled terms of seeming madness, describes the cycle of life, where a worm can eat a king, a fish can eat that worm, and a man can eat that fish, thus eating a king, who inevitably passes through the digestive system of another man.
  • Basically, Hamlet calls Claudius a piece of poo.
  • And, anyway, the whole "find the body" game will be a lot simpler once Polonius's corpse begins to leave a reeking scent trail.
  • After Hamlet hints that the body is in the stairs leading to the lobby, Claudius sends the attendants off to find it.
  • And he tells Hamlet that he's being shipped off to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for his own good, and also as a princely time-out for having caused so much trouble.
  • Claudius, left alone, reveals that he has arranged to have Hamlet killed once he reaches England.
  • Cue the evil laugh.

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