What are the reasons for considering the murder of Polonius to be the turning point of the play in act 3, scene 4?

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At this point in the text, I don't think Claudius really felt himself to be in any danger from Hamlet. Hamlet was doing his "acting crazy" bit for a while, and Polonius had all but convinced Gertrude and Claudius that it was the result of Hamlet's love for Ophelia, a connection Polonius had made her sever because he was sure Hamlet could not really love her. Up until now, Hamlet has been erratic and out of sorts, strange even, but he has not shown himself to be violent to his enemy—his uncle and stepfather. At this point, when Hamlet kills Polonius, he makes it clear that his apparent madness has, indeed, driven him further than anyone had been previously aware. From now on, his uncle will be more on his guard, even attempting to send Hamlet to England to be murdered.

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Hamlet has been hesitant in carrying out his revenge against Claudius, putting it off until he can know for sure that Claudius is guilty. He accidentally kills Polonius, making Hamlet feel God is using him as a tool of vengeance to punish Polonius not only for his sins, but to also punish Hamlet for his own sins. Killing Polonius leads Hamlet to look at it in terms of retribution, punishment, and vengeance when he says, "Heaven hath pleased it so/To punish me with this, and this with me."

Now that Hamlet has killed Polonius, he will be considered truly mad by everyone. His mother certainly believes he is, and he will lose Ophelia because of his mistake in thinking Claudius was behind the curtain. After this act, Hamlet has nothing else to lose. It marks the loss of everyone who is important to him, his father, mother, and Ophelia. Though Hamlet doesn't achieve his vengeance with the death of Polonius, he knows now that he can committ murder and carry out his vengeance against Claudius.

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You are right in identifying that Hamlet's murder of Polonius is a very significant turning point in the play. Firstly, let us remember that this is Hamlet's first act of open violence in killing somebody. Following "The Mousetrap," now Claudius understands the true danger that Hamlet represents to his person. Note what he comments to Gertrude in Act IV scene 1:

His liberty is full of threats to all,

To you yourself, to us, to every one.

Claudius realises the way that Hamlet's presence threatens his own life and power, and continues to act to do away with him, and thus the murder of Polonius represents an escalation in the conflict between these two characters.

In addition, this scene is important because of the way in which Hamlet confronts his mother after killing Polonius, and makes her see the impropriety of her actions and doubt her husband. This represents the first break in the relationship between Claudius and Gertrude, who up to this point in the play had been united in purpose. Gertrude in Act III scene 4 agrees not to sleep with Claudius any more and obviously begins to side with Hamlet.

Lastly, let us remember how the murder of Polonius impacts Ophelia and Hamlet's relationship with her. The madness of Ophelia as demonstrated in Act IV scene 5 and the way that her father's death at the hand of her lover has made her "importunate" and "distracted" is of course key in the way that Laertes comes to side with Claudius against Hamlet, leading to the final tragic duel that kills them both.

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