Act IV, Scene 4: “A Plain in Denmark”
Summary: Hamlet and company are on their way to England, and they come upon a bunch of soldiers from Norway. Hamlet asks them what they’re up to, and the leader, Fortinbras, tells them they’re after a little piece of land in Poland that isn’t worth anything but they want it anyway. This gets Hamlet thinking about death, his stalled revenge, and bloody things in general.
Reaction: Maybe Hamlet’s a little bipolar? He goes from bouncing off the walls crazy to claiming, “O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” Another observation that came to me in the middle of the night for some reason when I woke up thinking the names Rosencratz and Guildenstern over and over (maybe Hamlet is making me go crazy too?): Hamlet’s so-called friends Rosencratz and Guildenstern sound like they should be a law firm advertising on TV–they have that sleazy poetic ring to their names.
Prediction: Hamlet won’t be able to stay away from Denmark long before going back to try for revenge again. (I think I already pretty much predicted this, but nothing’s really happened to make a new prediction).
Why This Book Is a Classic: Main characters with mental problems!
Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Main characters with mental problems that we can try to diagnose with a disease that didn’t even exist when the play was written.