Homework Help

Are the reasons Claudius gives Laertes for not punishing Hamlet for killing Polonius...

user profile pic

googlex3 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:20 PM via web

dislike 0 like

Are the reasons Claudius gives Laertes for not punishing Hamlet for killing Polonius genuine?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 27, 2009 at 12:09 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

No, Claudius's reasons for not punishing Hamlet for Polonius's murder are not genuine. Claudius is the king, and as such it is his duty to administer justice despite family obligation. If he truly wanted to charge and punish Hamlet he would have the power to do so. Rather than following the proper process for obtaining justice, Claudius manipulates Laeteres into plotting against Hamlet, all in the name of justice. The truth of that matter is that Claudius knows that Hamlet poses a threat to him and his rule. Hamlet clearly suspects foul play, which is illustrated by the play that he performs. If Claudius brings charges against Hamlet in the proper way, Hamlet will be given the opportunity to tell others about Claudius murdering King Hamlet. Claudius is not interested in getting justice for Polonius's death, he wants to keep his throne.

user profile pic

jagtig | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 27, 2009 at 1:56 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

He agrees with Laertes that Hamlet should be punished:

And where the offence is let the great axe fall.

I pray you, go with me - IV, vi, 220

Thus I am not sure where you get the "reasons for not punishing Hamlet."

Unless you mean:

I will work him

To an exploit, now ripe in my device,

Under the which he shall not choose but fall:

And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,

But even his mother shall uncharge the practise

And call it accident. - IV,vii,64

According to these lines, he's trying to execute Hamlet without trial or other intervening judicial means.


user profile pic

jagtig | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 27, 2009 at 2:40 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

As for your question concerning the statement he makes, "This is I, Hamlet the Dane," I think it important because he shows not only his ambition, but his megalomania.

The statement might be read, "This is I, Hamlet the King." That is the meaning of Dane.


In context he is leaping into Ophelia's open grave to express his love for her. Now we see the complexity of the man, as well as his complete disregard for reality insofar as it goes against him.

Ophelia drowned herself in sadness over her loss of her father to Hamlet's ill-timed sword thrust. He had intended to kill Claudius, but thought that Polonius was Claudius.

"I took thee for thy better."  - III,iv,33



Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes