The sudden interruption of their conference by Polonius’ murder is very surprising. Just before entering his mother’s closet Hamlet showed much reluctance to kill Claudius by using the excuse “A villain kills my father and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. Why this is hire and salary, not revenge. ” Yet his sudden assault on Polonius shows his capability of quick and impulsive action. Even after the murder, he shows a complete lack of concern. His strange response “Dead for a ducat… is it the King? ” contrasts with his reluctance to kill Claudius not so long ago.
However he proves his capability when he murders the King impulsively in the final scene. Hamlet “took thee [Polonius] for thy better [Claudius]” hence showing a different side of Hamlet. The murder of Polonius also mocks Hamlet’s word: “I will speak daggers to her, but use none”. Hamlet ends up killing Polonius hence using the daggers which he said he would not use. The chief effect of Polonius’ murder is to clarify the extent of Gertrude’s sin. Hamlet uses Gertrude’s response to Polonius’ murder as a comparison to what she had done: “A bloody deed – almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.
” The oxymoron probably suggests sarcasm in his tone as he in fact never really considered his mother as “good” after her sudden marriage with Claudius. Gertrude’s shocked echo “As kill a king” signals to the audience that she is innocent of King Hamlet’s murder and it shows her shock at the discovery that her new husband murdered him first. His hatred is proven when he tells Horatio in Act 1 Scene 2 “I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student. I think it was to see my mother’s wedding” when Horatio states that he had attended King Hamlet’s funeral.
Another important aspect of Polonius’ death is that it is the doorway to the rest of the tragedy which follows soon after. So, in a way, the accusation of the tragedy laid on Hamlet due to his tragic flaw is somewhat shared with Polonius. Had Polonius not been an “intruding fool” he might have survived death and so Ophelia would not commit suicide and Laertes would not join Claudius’ evil scheme to kill Hamlet. Shakespeare hence brings out Polonius’ contribution to the tragedy in this scene. Polonius in fact was a very smart person who only appeared to be a fool.
His tragic flaw was his inquisitiveness. He liked to poke his nose into everything and so this time he ‘poked’ it too far thus preparing his death-bed. After this murder follows now an episode of passionate intimacy unlike any other in the play. Here is where he really slashes his mother’s conscience with the “daggers” he uses on her; he “wag[s] thy [his] tongue in noise so rude against… ” Gertrude. He intends to hurt her, to insult her and to humiliate her to such an extent that it would shock her into realizing and accepting her own lustful actions.
This argument between the mother and son shows the intense feelings of the strong love and affection that exists between them and this is a scene that grips the audience by its forceful language. The comparison of Hamlet’s “god-like” father to the “mildewed ear” that Gertrude married shortly after his father’s death shows that Claudius was absolutely not even a fraction of what his father was. Shakespeare emphasizes this comparison through the use of metaphors, similes and other language techniques. The audience is able to understand Hamlet’s deep love and respect for his father through these lines.
We see that he keeps on repeating the question “Have you eyes? ” showing how he felt that her “sense is apoplexed”. He mocks her by saying that what devil “hath cozened you at hoodman-blind? ” meaning that she picked the worst of all people as a husband in her blindness. Hamlet is so raged that he is at breaking point and is really unable to in any way accept his mother’s incestuous relationship and betrayal. All this time he was wondering “where is thy blush? ” showing that he had hoped that his mother would realize much earlier the sin that she had committed and would turn away from it.
The harsh words that he uses “turnest my [Gertrude’s] eyes into my very soul” where she sees her incestuous sin as “such black and grained spots as will not leave their tinct”. This shows the impact that Hamlet’s language had on Gertrude. She is so fed up and exhausted that all she can do is beg him to “speak to me no more”. We see that in this scene the only time she addresses him as “sweet Hamlet” is when she is begging him to stop. This proves her acceptance of the fact that she is wrong and is now going through a traumatic experience of the clash between “her and her fighting soul”.
The impact is so intense that she has no words to reply to Hamlet’s “daggers”. She is deeply ashamed of her behaviour. Unlike Claudius Gertrude shows real sorrow for what she has done. It is clear from her remark and her astonishment “As kill a king! ” that she is really innocent of King Hamlet’s death. She really sees the “black and grained spots” in her “very soul”. Another important aspect of this scene is the entrance of the ghost. This second visit of the ghost finds it not in battle armour but in his “habit as he lived” which signifies the fatherly concern at the continuing conflict between mother and son.
It is perhaps meant to show that Hamlet’s behaviour to his mother has exceeded the limit and has broken the promise. It also proves the late King’s protectiveness towards his wife while he was still alive. Even in Act 1 Scene 5 he commands Hamlet to “taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught”. This is a reminder to Hamlet that he should stop hurting her. King Hamlet knows that Hamlet will be obedient and so he allows Hamlet to continue his conference in order to restore Gertrude’s spirit and take away her emotional burdens.
The appearance of the ghost also establishes the idea that Hamlet is delaying action and this is something that Hamlet confesses to the ghost. “Do you not come your tardy son to chide, that, lapsed in time and passion, let’s go by the important acting of your dread command? ” Hamlet very well knows that his deadline is way past due and so he probably thinks that the ghost has come to punish him. This is why he abruptly cuts his Another point to note is that the ghost is only visible to Hamlet alone in this scene.
The only other characters that see the ghost other than Hamlet are Horatio, Barnardo and Marcellus. This small list of people suggests that the ghost is only visible to those who are pure at heart. Hamlet had not intentionally killed Polonius – he thought it was Claudius and so he wanted to complete the revenge scheme. Gertrude couldn’t see the ghost as she too was engaged in the incestuous sin with Claudius. This could also suggest that King Hamlet dearly wanted to talk to Gertrude but due to her impure state he was only able to use Hamlet to communicate. This is probably why he says “Speak to her, Hamlet”.