What is the main theme of Act 4 in William Shakespeare's Hamlet?
In act 4, scenes 1–3, Gertrude begins to deceive her husband, the king, telling him that Hamlet "weeps for what is done"—his killing of Polonius. This is not true. He does not weep for Polonius or his involvement in the old man's murder. The king, of course, still tries to deceive Gertrude by playing the role of caring stepfather, concerned for Hamlet's well-being and happiness. Hamlet continues to deceive his one-time friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, acting as though he has gone mad. He continues this charade in front of the king, Claudius, as well. Claudius deceives everyone, hiding his secret plan to have Hamlet killed in England. These scenes seem to convey the idea that appearances can be deceiving.
Then, in scenes 4–5, Fortinbras and Laertes are presented as foils to Hamlet. They are quick to take action to avenge their fathers. Fortinbras takes action to reclaim lands that once belonged to Norway, and Laertes takes action to learn the truth of his father's death and exact his...
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