Please explaın Hamlet's quotation after he kılled the Polonıus in Shakespeare's Hamlet. What is the functıon of fısh and kıng here?KING CLAUDIUSNow, Hamlet, where's Polonius?HAMLETAt...

Please explaın Hamlet's quotation after he kılled the Polonıus in Shakespeare's Hamlet. What is the functıon of fısh and kıng here?

KING CLAUDIUS
Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
HAMLET
At supper.
KING CLAUDIUS
At supper! where?
HAMLET
Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain
convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your
worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all
creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
that's the end.
KING CLAUDIUS
Alas, alas!
HAMLET
A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
KING CLAUDIUS
What dost you mean by this?
HAMLET
Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
progress through the guts of a beggar.

KING CLAUDIUS
Where is Polonius?
HAMLET
In heaven; send hither to see: if your messenger
find him not there, seek him i' the other place
yourself. But indeed, if you find him not within
this month, you shall nose him as you go up the
stairs into the lobby.
(4.3.1)

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It should be noted that Claudius has only heard about the murder of Polonius from Gertrude. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern only believe it because Claudius tells them what Gertrude told him. Only Hamlet, Gertrude, and the audience really know that Hamlet killed Polonius. Shakespeare probably had Hamlet drag the body off the stage in order to assure the audience that Polonius was really dead.

When Claudius asks, "Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?" he is being friendly and fatherly because he thinks he is dealing with a madman. When Hamlet says, "At supper," he shocks and frightens the King, who is a bundle of nerves anyway. Claudius rises to his feet. He immediately suspects that a coup is underway and that Polonius was in on it. Maybe Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are also involved. They are Hamlet's friends. Maybe Gertrude is involved. She loves Hamlet more than she loves Claudius, and he knows it. Claudius is unarmed, and Hamlet is still wearing his sword. Whether Hamlet is sane or insane doesn't matter at this moment. If he is sane, he could be leading a coup; if he is insane, then outside enemies could be using him as a figurehead.

Hamlet wants to frighten Claudius, to make him lose that hateful smile, that regal self-assurance, and that condescending attitude. But then when he has succeeded, he relieves the King's immediate anxieties by pretending to be mad and telling him that Polonius is not eating but being eaten. The whole speech about the worms is only intended to assure Claudius that Hamlet is insane. It also shows Hamlet's intelligence, creativity, wit, and the other qualities that make him such an interesting and sympathetic character. While the speech about the worms is zany, it is also a thinly veiled put-down of the king, telling him in allegorical fashion that he is just another human who will be food for worms sooner or later.

Claudius does not ask, "Where is the body?" He asks, "Where's Polonius?" He doesn't know whether his crazy stepson realizes he has killed the old man but only thinks they are playing a game of "Hide Fox and All After," a variation of "Hide and Seek." Polonius was actually hiding behind the tapestry, which may have given Hamlet the idea of pretending to be playing "Hide Fox and All After" in his imitation of a lunatic.

 

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