Study Guide

Hamlet Act IV, Scene iv

By William Shakespeare

Act IV, Scene iv

  • Hamlet is on his way to England. More specifically, he's on the Danish coast near the Danish castle.
  • And what does he see but the armies of Prince Fortinbras of Norway, who it seems has decided to wage war with Poland instead of with Denmark.
  • Hamlet assumes Fortinbras must be taking on the whole country, but after talking with one of his Captains he learns that this is a huge conflict being waged over a tiny, unimportant piece of territory.
  • This makes Hamlet think. He concludes that, if Fortinbras can lead 20,000 men to their death over a little patch of land, then he should be able to rain vengeance upon the man who has killed his father and "stained" his mother.
  • Right?
  • He swears to follow Fortinbras' example, stop delaying and finally carry out his revenge.
  • Suuuuuuuure he will.