In act 4, scene 3 of Hamlet, why must Claudius be careful in his treatment of Hamlet?

Expert Answers

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

In Act four scene 3 King Claudius learns of Polonius's death.  Remember that in the previous scene young Hamlet stabbed Ophelia's father through a tapestry thinking it to be Claudius spying on him.

Hamlet should be punished for the murder, but Claudius is very cautious to punish the...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In Act four scene 3 King Claudius learns of Polonius's death.  Remember that in the previous scene young Hamlet stabbed Ophelia's father through a tapestry thinking it to be Claudius spying on him.

Hamlet should be punished for the murder, but Claudius is very cautious to punish the young prince.  He knows that Hamlet is very popular with the people of Denmark, and so to publicly punish him could be detrimental to his approval rating with his people. 

Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
He's loved of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;

Instead, he decides on a secret plan to send Hamlet to England with letters urging England to punish him since he cannot. The punishment he plans for his son/ nephew is death.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team