Act III, Scene 4: “The Queen’s Closet”
Summary: Polonius tells to the Queen what to say to Hamlet and then hides to listen. When Hamlet comes he attacks her for marrying her husband’s brother. When she cries out Polonius reacts and Hamlet stabs kills him. Then Hamlet and the Queen continue to talk. Hamlet tells her she’s too old to lust for another man so why did she marry her brother-in-law? She doesn’t have an answer. The ghost appears to Hamlet, but she doesn’t see it and thinks he’s crazy. Hamlet says he’ll take care of the body and tells her not to sleep with the King anymore.
Reaction: The first body falls! Just when I was almost convinced that Polonius was actually crafty and perhaps the devil, secretly working behind the scenes and manipulating everyone for some evil purpose–and I was afraid he’d be the only one left alive at the end of the play–he’s the first to go! I have to admit I cheered at his death. I think it’s funny that they continued their conversation with his dead body bleeding all over the floor.
Prediction: There’s probably a reason Hamlet doesn’t want her to sleep with the King that night, besides that he thinks it’s gross. I’m thinking he’s going to try to kill him then.
Why This Book Is a Classic: There’s some classic violence again. Polonius is stabbed and killed so fast I had to re-read it to make sure it had really happened. Depending on a production’s interpretation, it could be made blood spurtingly gory, but Shakespeare classically leaves it up to the imagination in his writing.
Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Bathroom humor, in a way: Queen: “Your bedded hair is like life in excrements, Starts up and stands on end.” His hair is like poop–tee hee–at least that’s how I interpreted it.