The dilemma of Hamlet and the death of Polonius


Hamlet is one disturbed man as he is in a dilemma of what to do. The statement ‘to be or not to be’ (3.1.63) demonstrates his state of mind and the conflicting experiences he going through. He is being haunted by his father’s ghost who expects him (Hamlet) to avenge on his behalf.  The person that he is expected to murder is Claudius his uncle who allegedly poisoned his father and subsequently caused the death of the father.

Hamlet has the propensity to kill not necessarily because his father wanted him to avenge for him. This is demonstrated by the fact that he killed Polonius though not the person he was to murder. murdering is therefore inherent in him and not induced as Hamlet would have us believe.

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The death of Polonius was as a result of cold blood murder. This is because he did not deserve to die as there was no conflict between him and Hamlet. Cold blood murder happens when there is no provocation whatsoever, where the assailant mercilessly kills the victim without any core reason.

Hamlet is summoned by his mother, Queen Gertrude who has an issue to discuss with him. In the process of their discussion, a conflict arises and there is a bit of commotion. The Queen is convinced that Hamlet wants to kill her and this causes her to scream for help.

Polonius who is spying the whole act behind the scenes and is convinced that the queen is in danger panics and raises alarm to rescue the queen. He (Hamlet) draws his sword and pierces him through the cloth killing him on the spot. This is not the man that he was expected to kill by his father and that is the reason why the ghost comes again to tell him that he has to proceed to kill Claudius, whom he left praying (3.3.76). This is a demonstration that he knew that the man he had killed was not the king but an innocent man.

The reason why this is a cold-blooded murder is that he is remorseless even after committing that act (John. 22). He is callous and it appears as though nothing weird has happened.  He blames him for his death “thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell”

(3.4 40).

Another reason that demonstrates his numbness is when he is asked what he did with the dead body (4.2. 40). He says that he compounded it with dust. Had he done the act accidentally he would be sorry for what he did.

Hamlet:  How now! A rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! Makes a push through the eras (3. 4. 27)

(The actor is holding his sword looking at the dead body arrogantly then he swaggers on stage feeling that he has achieved much by murdering the victim. He is remorseless, full of rage that if someone is to appear at this point, he might be risking his own life.).

Hamlet: compounded it with dust, where to ‘tis kin’ (4.2. 7)

(He is walking majestically onstage demonstrating how he buried Polonius in the soil. He assumes the position of a person burying something in the soil, uses his sword and feet to push the body in the pit, then he buries it.)

Hamlet: thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell (3. 4. 40)

(He roughly withdraws his sword from Polonius body. He is so callous that he is not moved by the blood that is oozing profusely from the victim’s body. He walks away oblivious of the damage that he has made and cursing Polonius for causing his death.)


The unexpected death of Polonius was a cold-blooded one caused by the callous personality of Hamlet.


Lennard, John. William Shakespeare: Hamlet. Literature Insights ser. Humanities-

Ebooks, ISBN 184760028X 2007

William Shakespeare: Hamlet. Act 3, scene 1, 40

William Shakespeare: Hamlet. Act 3, scene 4, 27

William Shakespeare: Hamlet. Act 4 scene 2, 7

William Shakespeare: Hamlet. Act 3, Scene 1, 63

William Shakespeare: Hamlet.  Act 3, scene 3, 76

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