How does Hamlet insult the King in act 4 scene 3 (about lines 26-31)? "Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar." ACT 4 SC 3

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clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet insults the king in this scene when Claudius is inquiring about where Hamlet is keeping Polonius' body. When Hamlet is first asked about where Polonius is Hamlet answers, "At supper." Claudius already knows about the death so he isn't finding Hamlet's joke very funny. When Claudius asks where he is at supper, Hamlet tells him, "Not where he eats, but where he is eaten." Hamlet is alluding to the fact that he has buried the body and it is now a feast for the worms, but he is also underhandedly telling Claudius that he knows about his own father's murder. Hamlet says how interesting it is that a worm can feast on the body of a king, a man may fish with that worm and then eat the fish that was fed with the worm that feasted on a king, essentially eating a king. Claudius is confused and asks Hamlet's point and he tells him that his point was simply to show how a beggar can make a feast out of a king. While Claudius has been insulted and he kind of knows he has been, he isn't quite sure how because he doesn't understand what Hamlet is saying.

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