Describe Hamlet's attitude at the end of the Act IV, Scene 4. Why has he taken this attitude?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This is a climatic moment in this play.  Hamlet has struggled with his motivation to commit revenge on his father's behalf.  He has felt that he should do it, but has been unable to muster the courage to be so murderous.  However, at the end of this scene, he insists that he will be more aggressive:

O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

What spurs on his "bloody" thoughts is the sense of shame inspired by Fortinbras and his army.  Hamlet has learned that Fortinbras intends to attack and capture a piece of Poland, a bit of land that has little value in it.  The value, instead, is that Fortinbras is looking for recognition and power.  Despite that shallow impetus, his army will, for loyalty's sake, go forward with him in battle.

Hamlet realizes that if this is the case, then he himself - who has the moral right to avenge his father - has been weak in comparison.  With such motivation, nothing should have held him back from attacking, and Hamlet is convinced that nothing else should.


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