In act 4, scene 1 of Hamlet, how does the king react to hearing that Hamlet killed Polonius? Paraphrase three things he says about the situation.

In act 4, scene 1 of Hamlet, King Claudius reacts to Polonius's murder at Hamlet's hands when Queen Gertrude tells him the news. He says that this terrible murder would have happened to him if he had been the one present. He also says that Hamlet's madness is the cause of this murder, and he blames himself for letting Hamlet continue to run free while he knew of the madness. He also gives a solution: send Hamlet abroad.

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In act 4, scene 1 of Hamlet, the king, Claudius, is told by his wife, Queen Gertrude, that Hamlet has killed Polonius, Claudius’s chief counsellor. He starts off my exclaiming, “O heavy deed,” meaning that Polonius’s murder is a terrible thing to happen. He continues, “It had been so with us, had we been there.” Claudius, using the royal “we,” is stating that Hamlet would have killed him if he had been there.

From there, he focuses on Hamlet when he says, “His liberty is full of threats to all; / To you yourself, to us to everyone.” Claudius is saying that Hamlet’s madness is a threat to everyone, including himself and the queen. He then wonders how to deal with Hamlet’s action, musing that all culpability will be placed on him.

Then, Claudius starts to blame himself for letting Hamlet run free in his madness. He says, “But so much was our love / We would not understand what was most fit, / But like the owner of a foul disease, / To keep it from divulging, let it feed / Even on the pith of life.” Claudius is saying that he failed to restrain Hamlet out of love, even though Hamlet’s madness is similar to a disease that grew more and more dangerous the longer it was a secret.

Claudius also tells Gertrude that they will send Hamlet by boat to England. He also states that getting another country to accept Hamlet now will take all of his “majesty and skill / Both countenance and excuse,” meaning it will take all of his diplomacy to explain away Hamlet’s situation.

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