Act IV Questions and Answers

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  1. What bothers Claudius when Gertrude tells him that Hamlet murdered Polonius?
  2. What does Hamlet mean when he calls Rosencrantz a “sponge”?
  3. Why can’t Claudius simply punish or banish Hamlet openly?
  4. What are Claudius’s secret orders to England?
  5. Why is Hamlet inspired by Fortinbras?
  6. How has Polonius’s death affected Ophelia?
  7. How did Hamlet escape the ship bound for England?
  8. Why is Laertes angry with Claudius?
  9. How do Laertes and Claudius plan to kill Hamlet?
  10. What tragic news does Queen Gertrude bring Laertes?


  1. Claudius is bothered by the idea that it could have easily been him who was killed, and he is worried about the political backlash he will face as news of Polonius’s murder spreads.
  2. Hamlet means that Rosencrantz wants to soak up all the king’s favor and power.
  3. Hamlet is very popular with the people of Denmark, which makes it difficult for Claudius to openly act against him.
  4. Claudius secretly sends word to England that Hamlet should be executed immediately upon arrival.
  5. Hamlet admires Fortinbras’s determination to take action and achieve his goal—no matter the cost.
  6. Ophelia has gone mad in the wake of Polonius’s death.
  7. Hamlet’s ship was attacked by pirates, and Hamlet boarded the pirate ship and returned to Denmark.
  8. Laertes initially blames Claudius for Polonius’s death and Ophelia’s madness, though Claudius quickly redirects his anger toward Hamlet instead.
  9. Claudius plans to arrange a public duel between Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes will secretly fight with a sharpened, poisoned sword, which will allow him to kill Hamlet with even the tiniest scratch. As a backup, Claudius plans to offer Hamlet some poisoned wine should Laertes fail to hit him.
  10. Queen Gertrude tells Laertes that Ophelia has drowned in the brook.

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