Does Hamlet feel guilty about killing Polonius? Is there a quote for it?

Hamlet does not seem to feel guilty about killing Polonius. In fact, when Claudius inquires as to Polonius's whereabouts, Hamlet engages in some rather off-color humor, indicating that he feels no remorse about his actions.

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As an audience, we tend to identify strongly with Hamlet and his anguish over his father's death. We feel even more sympathy for him when we find out that his father was murdered by his own brother and that his father's ghost is expecting Hamlet to avenge his death.

Yet Shakespeare, a commoner himself, sprinkles the plays with warnings about the dangers powerful princes pose for ordinary people. For all of Hamlet's reluctance to kill his uncle, a fellow royal and anointed king, Hamlet has an almost complete disregard for the lives of the people beneath him in status, especially the courtiers that royals like him rely on to do the real work of running the kingdom.

Hamlet feels no remorse over killing Polonius, even though he did so by accident and, remarkably, even though this is the father of the woman he supposedly loves. He merely says of him, as if he is so much garbage:

I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room.

He also refers to him as "a foolish prating knave," a cold response, to say the least, to a person who has just died.

This foreshadows the cold-blooded way Hamlet will have the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed. Part of Shakespeare's genius is his ability to create well-rounded characters, and this tendency to disregard the death of inferiors is a chilling flaw in Hamlet's character.

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Polonius is hardly the most sympathetic of characters. An ingratiating, finger-wagging, supercilious bore, he is not someone to whom we instinctively feel drawn.

Even so, when Hamlet accidentally kills him in act 3, scene 4, we are still somewhat shocked. Yes, Polonius was spying on Hamlet while he was engaged in conversation with his mother, but he in no way deserved to be run through with a sword. And besides, Hamlet thought it was Claudius he was killing and not Polonius.

Yet even when he discovers that he's killed the wrong man, Hamlet is not exactly overcome with remorse. Far from it, in fact. Instead, he indulges in a spot of sick humor about the dead man that indicates clearly just how little concern he has for Polonius. But not before making a dubious moral comparison between his killing of Polonius and Gertrude's marrying Claudius:

A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother

As kill a king and marry with his brother.
(act 3, scene 4, lines 29–30)

In act 4, scene 3, Claudius asks Hamlet where Polonius is. Hamlet responds by telling Claudius that Polonius is at supper, meaning that his body is being eaten by worms. He goes on to drive home his complete lack of remorse or guilt by making a further sick joke. When Claudius again asks where Polonius is, Hamlet says he's in heaven and that if Claudius wants him, he should send a messenger there. If he can't find him there, he should try the “other place,” that is hell.

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Hamlet kills Polonius by mistake, but he feels no guilt for killing him.  After staging the "Mousetrap," or the play with in the play, to test his theory that Claudius planned and carried out the king's death.  After Claudius runs screaming for light, Hamlet follows his mother to her confront her about what she has done.

Polonius tells Gertrude to talk with him, and that while they speak, he will hide behind the tapestry.  He wants her to speak with him about his behavior and find a way to calm him down.

He will come straight. Look you lay home to him.
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
And that your Grace hath screen'd and stood between
Much heat and him. I'll silence me even here.
Pray you, be round with him.

As their conversation escalates, Gertrude becomes afraid. Her son is impassioned and yelling at her by bringing a mirror to his actions: marrying her husband's brother and her son's uncle.

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, help, ho!


Polonius is also afraid for Gertrude and calls out for help, "What, ho? Help, help, help!"  Thinking that it is Claudius (or a rat "How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!") Hamlet drives his sword through the tapestry and into Polonius.

Gertrude is understandable distraught that her son has so callously murdered someone. "O me, what hast thou done?" she asks him incredulously.  In an almost flippant tone, Hamlet responds that he doesn't know.  Did he kill the king? Oh, well it wasn't him.  At least killing a king wasn't as bad as what she's done.

A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king and marry with his brother.
In the next act, Hamlet plays a game of hide and go seek with Claudius and his men as they try to locate where he has hidden Polonius' body.  With such word play, clearly he doesn't feel bad about killing Polonius. ROSENCRANTZ:
Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
Ay, sir; that soaks up the King's countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the King best service in the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouth'd, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have glean'd, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again.

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