In "Hamlet" Polonius's murder starts the catastrophe.  Is Hamlet to blame for the deaths at the end of the play?  

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mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hamlet didn't bring the poison to the fencing duel, or put it in the cups.  However, Hamlet killing Polonius scares Claudius; he wonders if he might be next.  This inspires him to engage in the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern scheme, which fails.  Then, Claudius goes the whole nine yards with the poison scenario, in order to ensure Hamlet's demise.  At the ending, Hamlet just took advantage of the cards he was dealt.  There's poison here?  Well, I guess I can use that to my advantage and finally enact the revenge I have been ho-humming about this entire time.  So, he does.  Hamlet's mother was unfortunate collateral damage in the entire wreck that was the battle between Claudius and Hamlet.  So, there is a connection to the death of Polonius, but is that the definite beginning?  You could say that the murder of the king, or the ghost appearing, or the play could have set all of this going.

Also, who's to say that if Hamlet hadn't killed Polonius Claudius wouldn't have plotted Hamlet's demise?  Wouldn't the suspicion of Hamlet knowing about the murder have been enough to prompt Claudius to scheming?  Claudius had a lot to lose if his secret was outed; the kingdom, Gertrude, honor, and his life.  Polonius or no, there is a good chance that events might have ended badly anyway.  

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jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The most brutal of all of Hamlet's actions is the killing of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. There was no necessity for their death in the accomplishment of Hamlet's plan. The news of their demise is parenthetical and thrown in to the plot without ceremony or remorse. The other deaths are discussed above but these two do stand out in their understatement. While the other deaths deal directly in development of the plot, R+G are slain out of, presumably, a sense of cruel destruction.

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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If we can transfer the blame for the deaths at the end of the play back in time to Hamlet's murder of Polonius; then logically

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