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In Act 4, Scene 1 of Hamlet, what are Claudius's chief concerns with regard to the murder?

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isuckinenglish | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 1, 2010 at 12:08 AM via web

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In Act 4, Scene 1 of Hamlet, what are Claudius's chief concerns with regard to the murder?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 1, 2010 at 12:15 AM (Answer #1)

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In this scene, Claudius comes and talks to Gertrude and finds out that Hamlet has just killed Polonius, who was behind the arras.

Caludius's main concern is for himself.  The first thing he says is, essentially, "that could have been me."  He is talking about what would have happened if he would have been the one hiding.

Then Claudius starts worrying about what the Danish people will think of him now that this has happened.  He worries that they will blame him for not keeping better control over Hamlet when he is obviously a bit crazy.  This is why he decides to send Hamlet to England -- to get him out of sight and (we learn later) to kill him on the way.

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jforster | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 1, 2010 at 4:28 AM (Answer #2)

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Claudius's first concern is for his own safety. He says, "It had been so with us had we been there." He acknowledges that Hamlet would have killed anyone who happened to be standing in Polonius's position.

Claudius's second concern is also for himself. He is concerned that he will be accused on not reigning in Hamlet's wild behavior. He says, "Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered? / It will be laid to us." Claudius is more concerned for public perception that for Hamlet's condition.

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