Gertrude tells Claudius about what happenedbetween her and her son. She says that Hamlet isvery mad and that he has killed Polonius. The kingtells Hamlet that he must go to England withRosencrantz and Guildenstern. Claudius givesRosencrantz and Guildenstern a letter for the King ofEngland demanding that Hamlet be killed. Ophelia seems to have gone mad. Laertes arrivesand expresses his desire to avenge his father’s death.When Ophelia reenters, obviously insane, Laertesplunges again into rage. Claudius claims that he isnot responsible for Polonius’s death and says that heunderstands Laertes’ desire for revenge.
Horatio meets sailors who give him a letterfrom Hamlet. In the letter, Hamlet says that hisship was captured by pirates, who have returnedhim to Denmark. He asks Horatio to take thesailors to the king and queen, for they havemessages for them as well. The sailors giveHamlet’s message to the king. In the message,Hamlet says that he will come to the king the nextday to explain his return to Denmark.
Claudius explains to Laertes that he did notpunish Hamlet for the murder of Poloniusbecause both the common people and the queenlove Hamlet very much. Laertes is pleased thatHamlet has come back to Denmark so that he cantake his revenge. Claudius encourages Laertes tokill Hamlet, since Hamlet’s behavior has madehim a threat to Claudius’s reign. Both settle on aplan. Claudius suggests a duel between Hamletand Laertes and Laertes will use a poisoned swordso that even a scratch from it will kill Hamlet. Theking will also offer Hamlet a poisoned cup of wineto drink from. Ophelia drowns in a pond. Laertes’ sadnessand anger increase.
BRIEF SUMMARY of ACT IV• The king sends Hamlet to England and sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with him, giving them orders to kill the prince.• Ophelia becomes mad.• Hamlet returns to Denmark.• Claudius puts a plan to kill Hamlet by the poisoned sword in a duel with Laertes.• Ophelia drowns in a pond.