Scene 14

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Synopsis

In the Chapel, Claudius worries about Hamlet's political popularity - or so he says, with others listening.

Hamlet and R & G arrive, and Rosencrantz tells Claudius they've found Hamlet but not Polonius. Hamlet talks to Claudius, and gives him a verbal runaround before finally revealing where Polonius's body is.

Claudius says that because he cares so much about Hamlet, he's sending him away, to England. Hamlet is astonished. He of course expected that, since Claudius now knows he's killed Polonius, he'd be imprisoned to await trial, and the trip to England would be cancelled. Kill your ex-girlfriend's father and win a free ocean cruise? – It's unheard of. Hamlet leaves, as does everyone else, except Claudius. Claudius, talking to himself, reveals that his letter to the King of England is an order to execute Hamlet.

Characters

The Scene 14 Characters are: Claudius, Rosencrantz, Hamlet, Guildenstern.

Passage Links

Hamlet entry #018-SD, Hamlet exit #056-SD

Jump down to the Notes.


Dialogue

Scene 14      [ ~ For England? ~ ]      (Act 4 Scene 3)

#14-Setting: Inside the Castle;
            The Chapel;
            Minutes after the previous Scene.

#14-000-SD  (Claudius enters, with an armed guard, and a cleric enters)


#14-001  Claudius:  I have sent to seek him, and to find the body;
                        I have sent them to find Hamlet, and to find the body.
#14-002        How dangerous is it that this man goes loose;
                        How dangerous it is, that he's wandering around loose.
#14-003        Yet must not we put the strong law on him,
                        Yet I cannot put the strong arm of the law upon him, because
#14-004        He's loved of the distracted multitude,
                        He's popular among the diverted public,
#14-005        Who like, not in their judgment, but their eyes,
                        Who like things, not because they have judgment, but because of what they see,
#14-006        And where 'tis so, the offender's scourge is weighed
                        And when that happens, the offender's punishment is censured,
#14-007        But never the offense.  To bear all smooth and even,
                        But his offense is overlooked.  To make everything happen smoothly and easily
#14-008        This sudden sending him away must seem
                        This quick send-off of him has to appear a result of
#14-009        Deliberate pause; diseases desperate grown,
                        Careful deliberation.  Diseases that have become deadly
#14-010        By desperate appliance are relieved,
                        Are relieved by the application of desperate remedies,
#14-011        Or not at all.
                        Or they don't get cured at all.

#14-011-SD  (Rosencrantz enters;
                   Guildenstern stands with Hamlet and the others at the doorway)

#14-012  Claudius:  How now, what hath befallen?
                        How now, what has come to pass?
#14-013  Rosencrantz:  Where the dead body is bestowed, my Lord
                        Where he has put the body, my Lord,
#14-014        We cannot get from him.
                        We can't get him to tell.
#14-015  Claudius:  But where is he?
                        But where is Hamlet?
#14-016  Rosencrantz:  Without, my Lord, guarded to know your pleasure.
                        Outside this room, my Lord, guarded, and waiting to know what you want done.
#14-017  Claudius:  Bring him before us.
                        Bring him in here to me.
#14-018  Rosencrantz:  Ho, bring in the Lord.
                        Ho! Bring in the Lord!

#14-018-SD  (Hamlet and Guildenstern enter, with the guards and
                   servants R & G roused earlier)

#14-019  Claudius:  Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
                        Now . . . Hamlet, where's Polonius?
#14-020  Hamlet:  At supper.
                        At supper.
#14-021  Claudius:  At supper, where?
                        At supper . . . where?
#14-022  Hamlet:  Not where he eats, but where he is eaten; a certain
                        Not where he eats, but where he's eaten. A certain
#14-023        convocation of politic worms are e'en at him.  Your worm is your only
                        meeting of politic worms is at him, even now.  Your worm is your ultimate
#14-024        emperor for diet; we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
                        ruler, for diet. We fatten all creatures to fatten us, and then we fatten ourselves
#14-025        for maggots; your fat King and your lean beggar is but variable
                        for maggots.  Your fat King and your lean beggar are but different
#14-026        service, two dishes but to one table; that's the end.
                        orders on the menu, two dishes on the same table. That's all.
#14-027  Claudius:  Alas, alas.
                        Alas, alas.
#14-028  Hamlet:  A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a King, &
                        A man may fish with a worm that has eaten of a King, and then
#14-029        eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
                        eat the fish that has taken that worm.
#14-030  Claudius:  What dost thou mean by this?
                        What do you mean by this?
#14-031  Hamlet:  Nothing but to show you how a King may go a progress
                        Nothing, except to show how a King can go on a trip
#14-032        through the guts of a beggar.
                        through the guts of a beggar.
#14-033  Claudius:  Where is Polonius?
                        Where is Polonius?
#14-034  Hamlet:  In Heaven; send thither to see; if your messenger find him
                        In Heaven, send to there and see.  If your messenger can't find him
#14-035        not there, seek him in the other place yourself; but if indeed you find
                        there, look for him in the other place, yourself.  But if, in fact, you don't find
#14-036        him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the
                        him in a month, you'll nose him out as you go up the
#14-037        stairs into the lobby.
                        stairs to the lobby.
#14-038  Claudius:  Go seek him there.    #14-038-SD  (a guard & servant exit)
                        Go and look for him there.
#14-039  Hamlet:  He will stay till you come.
                        He'll wait until you get there.
#14-040  Claudius:  Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety
                        Hamlet, because of this deed, and for your special safety,
#14-041        Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
                        Which I do offer, while I greatly grieve
#14-042        For that which thou hast done, must send thee hence,
                        Over what you've done, I must send you away.
#14-043        With fiery quickness, therefore prepare thyself,
                        With blazing speed.  Therefore, prepare for your trip.
#14-044        The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
                        The ship is ready, and the wind is right.
#14-045        The associates tend, and everything is bent
                        Your companions will attend you, and everything is aimed
#14-046        For England.
                        For England.
#14-047  Hamlet:  For England?
                        For England?
#14-048  Claudius:  Aye, Hamlet.
                        Yes, Hamlet.
#14-049  Hamlet:  Good.
                        Good!
#14-050  Claudius:  So is it if thou knewest our purposes.
                        Yes, it's good, if you knew my purposes.
#14-051  Hamlet:  I see a cherub that sees thee; but come, for England;
                        I see a spirit that sees you. But come, for England!
#14-052        Farewell, dear mother.
                        Farewell, dear mother.
#14-053  Claudius:  Thy loving father, Hamlet.
                        Your loving father, Hamlet.
#14-054  Hamlet:  My mother: father and mother is man and wife;
                        No, my mother: father and mother are man and wife,
#14-055        Man and wife is one flesh; so, my mother.
                        Man and wife are one flesh, and so, my mother.
#14-056        Come, for England.
                        Come on, for England.

#14-056-SD  (Hamlet exits;
               then as Claudius speaks the ensuing lines:
               R & G exit close behind Hamlet;
               the rest exit, in a straggling way, bowing;
               except, the cleric remains, to receive Polonius's body)

#14-057  Claudius:  Follow him at foot,
                        Follow at his heels,
#14-058        Tempt him with speed aboard;
                        Prevail upon him to board the ship as soon as possible.
#14-059        Delay it not; I'll have him hence tonight.
                        Don't delay.  I'll want him far away by tonight.
#14-060        Away!  For, everything is sealed and done
                        Away!  Because everything is sealed and finalized
#14-061        That else leans on the affair; pray you, make haste;
                        That this business otherwise depends upon.  Please, make haste. 
          (Claudius continues, aside):
#14-062        And England, if my love thou holdest at ought,
                        And England, if you value my friendship at all, and
#14-063        As my great power thereof may give thee sense -
                        As the great power of my friendship may make you see reason -
#14-064        Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red,
                        Since your scar is still fresh
#14-065        After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
                        From the Danish sword that struck you, so that your own dread
#14-066        Pays homage to us, thou mayest not coldly set
                        Bows you to my will - you may not uncaringly delay
#14-067        Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
                        My sovereign legal writ, which communicates in full,
#14-068        By letters conjuring to that effect,
                        Through letters of summons to this effect:
#14-069        The present death of Hamlet; do it, England,
                        The imminent death of Hamlet.  Do it, England,
#14-070        For, like the hectic in my blood, he rages,
                        Because he rages in my blood like a fever,
#14-071        And thou must cure me; till I know 'tis done,
                        And you must cure me.  Until I know it's done
#14-072        How e'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.
                        However my luck goes, it'll be as if my joys never even began.

#14-072-SD    (Claudius exits)

End of Scene 14

Scene Links

Go to: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6 - Scene 7 - Scene 8 - Scene 9 - Scene 10
Scene 11 - Scene 12 - Scene 13 - Scene 14 - Scene 15 - Scene 16 - Scene 17 - Scene 18 - Scene 19 - Scene 20


Notes

Jump up to the start of the Dialogue.

14-Setting
  • Place - The Chapel.

We know this Scene is in the Chapel because Claudius explicitly said so in Scene 12.

  • Time of Day - Just long enough after the previous Scene for Hamlet and R & G to come here from the base of the Lobby stairs. Make it one or two minutes.
  • Calendar Time -

Return: #Setting - or - Set Decoration#Scene 14

14-000-SD

(Claudius enters, with an armed guard, and a cleric enters)

Others may be present, but the above are mandatory. Not too many should be present since it's the middle of the night.

The guard is a precaution by Claudius for his safety, with Hamlet at large. The Chapel cleric has been roused from sleep to receive Polonius's body in the required way.

Return: #000-SD

14-001

Claudius: I have sent to seek him, and to find the body;

Return: #001

14-002

How dangerous is it that this man goes loose;

Return: #002

14-003

Yet must not we put the strong law on him,

Return: #003

14-004

He's loved of the distracted multitude,

distracted - diverted. Inattentive (to what's important.) An implication of "amused." In his speech, Claudius is saying the public is inattentive to essential points, but takes an interest in a subject because of the "show" of it. The public only wants to be amused, and they like Hamlet's "show," Claudius says.

Return: #004

14-005

Who like, not in their judgment, but their eyes,

Return: #005

14-006

And where 'tis so, the offender's scourge is weighed

Return: #006

14-007

But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even,

Return: #007

14-008

This sudden sending him away must seem

Return: #008

14-009

Deliberate pause; diseases desperate grown,

Return: #009

14-010

By desperate appliance are relieved,

Return: #010

14-011

Or not at all.

Return: #011

14-011-SD

(Rosencrantz enters; Guildenstern stands with Hamlet and the others at the doorway)

Return: #011-SD

14-012

Claudius: How now, what hath befallen?

Return: #012

14-013

Rosencrantz: Where the dead body is bestowed, my Lord

Return: #013

14-014

We cannot get from him.

Return: #014

14-015

Claudius: But where is he?

Return: #015

14-016

Rosencrantz: Without, my Lord, guarded to know your pleasure.

Return: #016

14-017

Claudius: Bring him before us.

Return: #017

14-018

Rosencrantz: Ho, bring in the Lord.

Return: #018

14-018-SD

(Hamlet and Guildenstern enter, with the guards and servants R & G roused earlier)


Return: #018-SD

14-019

Claudius: Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?

Return: #019

14-020
The Last Supper by da Vinci

At supper - strangely enough, the statement by Hamlet does mean that Polonius is dead. It is circuitous.

We are in a religious setting, the Chapel. In a religious setting, if you hear "supper," what might you think of? You might think of The Last Supper, by da Vinci. Being "at supper," in The Last Supper, is to be "with Jesus." However, at this time, to be "with Jesus" is to be dead. Thus, "at supper" = dead.

The train of thought is:
supper -> Last Supper -> with Jesus -> dead.

Claudius, just hearing what Hamlet said, has no chance of following that, and Hamlet knows it.

Return: #020

14-021

Claudius: At supper, where?

Return: #021

14-022

Hamlet: Not where he eats, but where he is eaten; a certain

Return: #022

14-023

convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only

politic worms - the kind of worms that like politics, and therefore like politicians. There is, further, an insulting implication that politicians are worms.

Return: #023

14-024

emperor for diet; we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves

Return: #024

14-025

for maggots; your fat King and your lean beggar is but variable

Return: #025

14-026

service, two dishes but to one table; that's the end.

Return: #026

14-027

Claudius: Alas, alas.

Return: #027

14-028

Hamlet: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a King, &

Return: #028

14-029

eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

In action, for eat - do a big chomping action of your jaw. Clack your teeth.

fish - while chomping, wave your hand in the manner of a fish's tail.

Hamlet is doing these actions at Claudius, of course.

fed - more chomping. Keep doing that through what follows.

of that - point with your left index finger toward your right hand. This takes it you're right handed. If not, reverse. Hold that pointing position.

worm - now then, we know perfectly well how Hamlet feels about Claudius. Wiggly fingers are wiggly worms. Hamlet uses the singular, "worm." When Hamlet shows one "worm" finger to Claudius, which finger is it going to be? We know very well which finger it's going to be. So, again...

worm - wiggle the fingers of your right hand momentarily, to show wiggly worms, then display that finger "worm" at Claudius.

While chomping, hold that pose of pointing at the finger "worm" for just a second, while looking at Claudius.

Fold your hands across your midsection and look innocent.

Return: #029

14-030

Claudius: What dost thou mean by this?

Return: #030

14-031

Hamlet: Nothing but to show you how a King may go a progress

Return: #031

14-032

through the guts of a beggar.

Return: #032

14-033

Claudius: Where is Polonius?

Return: #033

14-034

Hamlet: In Heaven; send thither to see; if your messenger find him

Return: #034

14-035

not there, seek him in the other place yourself; but if indeed you find

Return: #035

14-036

him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the

Return: #036

14-037

stairs into the lobby.

Return: #037

14-038

Claudius: Go seek him there.

Return: #038

14-038-SD

(a guard & servant exit)

Return: #038-SD

14-039

Hamlet: He will stay till you come.

Return: #039

14-040

Claudius: Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety

Return: #040

14-041

Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve

Return: #041

14-042

For that which thou hast done, must send thee hence,

Return: #042

14-043

With fiery quickness, therefore prepare thyself,

Return: #043

14-044

The bark is ready, and the wind at help,

Return: #044

14-045

The associates tend, and everything is bent

Return: #045

14-046

For England.

Return: #046

14-047

Hamlet: For England?

Hamlet is astounded. Kill your ex-fiancee's father, and when you're brought before the judge, he tells you you've won a free trip to England?

Hamlet knows perfectly well Claudius hates and fears him, and now, since Hamlet has killed Polonius, Claudius has a good and just reason to imprison Hamlet to await trial, and yet, nothing changes at all. It's the last thing you'd expect.

Hamlet won't be able to get this out of his head. It's too good to be true. It will eventually lead him to want a look at the paperwork for the diplomatic mission.

Return: #047

14-048

Claudius: Aye, Hamlet.

Return: #048

14-049

Hamlet: Good.

Return: #049

14-050

Claudius: So is it if thou knewest our purposes.

Return: #050

14-051

Hamlet: I see a cherub that sees thee; but come, for England;

cherub - the Chapel is decorated with cherubs. However, a cherub is a spirit, and "spirit" can mean "ghost." Hamlet's line contains a subtle allusion to the Ghost.

Return: #051

14-052

Farewell, dear mother.

Return: #052

14-053

Claudius: Thy loving father, Hamlet.

Return: #053

14-054

Hamlet: My mother: father and mother is man and wife;

Return: #054

14-055

Man and wife is one flesh; so, my mother.

Return: #055

14-056

Come, for England.

Return: #056

14-056-SD

(Hamlet exits; Claudius waves the guards and servants to follow [as he speaks the ensuing lines]; they do, in a straggling way, bowing as they exit; the cleric remains, to receive Polonius's body)

Return: #056-SD

14-057

Claudius: Follow him at foot,

Return: #057

14-058

Tempt him with speed aboard;

Return: #058

14-059

Delay it not; I'll have him hence tonight.

Return: #059

14-060

Away! For, everything is sealed and done

Return: #060

14-061

That else leans on the affair; pray you, make haste;

Return: #061

14-062

And England, if my love thou holdest at ought,

Claudius's speech from this line onward is aside. The cleric is still present in the Chapel, to receive Polonius's body. Beyond this point, the cleric hears none of what Claudius says.

Return: #062

14-063

As my great power thereof may give thee sense -

Return: #063

14-064

Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red,

cicatrice - scar. Cicatrice has a sibilance, a hiss. Shakespeare probably gave Claudius the word to make him sound snaky, as he engages in villainy. We recall the Ghost called Claudius a serpent.

raw and red - it's a recent scar. Claudius hasn't been to war with England, so that recent "scar" on England must have been inflicted by King Hamlet.

Claudius is trying to use King Hamlet's fearsome reputation in England to kill his son. That's truly slimy.

Return: #064

14-065

After the Danish sword, and thy free awe

Return: #065

14-066

Pays homage to us, thou mayest not coldly set

set - serve.

coldly set - like food being set on the table cold, after a delay. At supper. As 'twere. Claudius has written his order to England in a way to motivate them to act immediately, without delay.

Return: #066

14-067

Our sovereign process, which imports at full,

process - writ. Claudius is ordering a legal proceeding against Hamlet, in England, for Hamlet's execution, so he uses the term process in the legal way.

BOOKMARK consider process -> proceed -> progress ("go a progress" Hamlet said)

Return: #067

14-068

By letters conjuring to that effect,

conjuring - A term that goes along with the letters being Claudius's "magic" to rid himself of Hamlet. Claudius is trying to conjure Hamlet's spirit to rise, rise from his dead body, that is.

Return: #068

14-069

The present death of Hamlet; do it, England,

present - immediate, is the strict definition. Claudius wants the immediate death of Hamlet when he arrives in England. In relation to the current time, as Claudius speaks, it can be read as "imminent."

Return: #069

14-070

For, like the hectic in my blood, he rages,

hectic - fever.

Return: #070

14-071

And thou must cure me; till I know 'tis done,

Return: #071

14-072

How e'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.

Return: #072

14-072-SD

(Claudius exits)

He exits in terms of the playscript. Claudius does not leave the room because he is still going to "Put on a Show" of grief over Polonius's body, if they can ever get the darn thing here to the Chapel. Claudius is still sensitive to the political appearance of it all. He may sit in a front pew to wait.

Return: #072-SD


Scene Links

Go to: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6 - Scene 7 - Scene 8 - Scene 9 - Scene 10
Scene 11 - Scene 12 - Scene 13 - Scene 14 - Scene 15 - Scene 16 - Scene 17 - Scene 18 - Scene 19 - Scene 20


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