In act 4, scene 3 of Hamlet, why is Hamlet really being sent to England? Discuss multiple answers.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After Hamlet kills Polonius in Gertrude's chamber, Claudius becomes increasingly threatened by him and decides to send the prince to England along with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Claudius recognizes that he is in a precarious situation regarding how to handle the mentally unstable prince. Claudius is aware that Hamlet is a popular figure, and he adroitly realizes that the citizens of Denmark will criticize him for punishing the prince. Claudius is, however, worried about his own safety. He believes that he will be Hamlet's next victim if he allows the prince to remain in Denmark. Devious as he is, he sees the perfect opportunity to finally get rid of Hamlet by delivering a message to the King of England to have him executed upon arrival.

Claudius's primary reason to send Hamlet to England is to have him killed overseas. By doing so, he will not suffer any loss of trust from Denmark's population. Additionally, Claudius will successfully avoid publicly punishing Hamlet for murdering Polonius. His claim to the throne will no longer be threatened by Hamlet's presence. Hamlet agrees to travel to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but discovers Claudius's letter to the King of England. Hamlet rewrites the message by instructing the king to execute Rosencrantz and Guildenstern upon arrival. Hamlet's ship is then attacked by pirates who conveniently return him to Denmark, where he proceeds to duel Laertes in a fatal fencing match.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team