In act 4 scene 6 of Hamlet, how does Hamlets return from England affect the plot?

In act 4 scene 6 of Hamlet, how does Hamlets return from England affect the plot?

2 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer

    The important point is that he returns naked and alone. - The Rebirth of Hamlet

    A gravedigger was hired on the very day that Hamlet emerged from his mother's womb, which was the same day his father put old Fortinbras into the womb of earth (his grave), thus acquiring land "that was and is the question these wars" (1,1,124) and which is Hamlet's inheritance, figuratively a graveyard, not big enough to cover the dead from the impending war.

    Hamlet, born to be a death-dealing king, hates his birthright. Thus, throughout the play he regresses back to the womb (the womb of earth - Ophelia's grave), where he is reborn as Hamlet the rational scholar.

    HORATIO [to the Ghost] (1,1,148-149)

    Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

    For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

    HAMLET (1,5,207-208)

    . . . . O cursed spite,

    That ever I was born to set it right!

    LORD POLONIUS (2,2,222-225)

    . . . . Will you walk out of the air, my lord?


    Into my grave.


    Indeed, that is out o' the air.


    How pregnant sometimes his replies are!

    [Note the pun on air/heir.]

    HAMLET (3,1,132-140)

    . . . I am myself indifferent honest;

    but yet I could accuse me of such things that it

    were better my mother had not borne me. . .

    HAMLET'S LETTER [read by HORATIO] (4,6,14-15)

    Ere we were two days old at sea

    KING CLAUDIUS [reading the message from HAMLET] (4,7,46-47)

    'High and mighty, You shall know I am set naked on

    your kingdom.

    KING CLAUDIUS (4,7,54-55)

    'Tis Hamlets character. 'naked!

    And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.'

    Hamlet has metaphorically reverted to a two-day-old baby, and then to a naked newborn.

    Hamlet is metaphorically and psychologically (and perhaps literally) possessed by the warlike spirit of his dead father. He had erased himself from the book and volume of his brain and written his father's commandment there. His father was the voice of Denmark, sent from Hell to speak of horrors, to breathe contagion, unfolding the secrets of his prison-house that he was forbid to tell to mortal ears. His father, unable to part from his earthly kingdom, was doomed to walk the night in search of his "extorted treasure in the womb of earth" (1,1,149).

    There was another reference to treasure in the play: Ophelia's "chaste treasure" (1,3,33). Ophelia, like Hamlet, is also untrue to herself by being excessively obedient to her father. She let him tell her what to think. Her very name is an allusion to excessive filial duty.

    Ophelia's grave is metaphorically the grave of filial duty - the final inevitable end to which obedience to their fathers brought Ophelia and Hamlet, to their "marriage-bed." When Hamlet jumps into Ophelia's grave he finally gives his father's ghost what it had been seeking - Ophelia's chaste treasure in the womb of earth, the grave of filial duty.

    Ophelia's chaste treasure was in her lap

    HAMLET [to Ophelia] ((3,2,111)

    Lady, shall I lie in your lap?


    No, my lord.


    I mean, my head upon your lap?


    Ay, my lord.


    Do you think I meant country matters?

    Since she is a virgin, Ophelia's lap is undiscover'd country. After she is laid in the womb of earth (her grave), her chaste treasure becomes the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns (3,1,87-88). But Hamlet did return - he leaps into her womb of earth, then emerges re-bourn.

    Afte Hamlet leaped into Ophelia's grave, when he's being choked by Laertes, he says,


    I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;

    For, though I am not splenitive and rash,

    Yet have I have something in me dangerous,

    Which let thy wiseness fear:

    That "something in me" was the last appearance of the Ghost, who had finally been delivered to the grave where he belonged, his extorted treasure in the womb of earth.

    .... (leaving out some lines to cram this Answer into Yahoo's little space) .....

    It is fitting for Hamlet's mother to be present at his rebirth, to bear him anew:

    GERTRUDE (5,1,279)

    For love of God, forbear him.

    GERTRUDE (5,1,291)

    This is mere madness:

    And thus awhile the fit will work on him;

    Anon, as patient as the female dove,

    When that her golden couplets are disclosed,

    His silence will sit drooping.

    The hatching dove eggs symbolize Hamlet's metaphorical rebirth. The silence symbolizes Hamlet's liberation from the voice of Denmark

    When Hamlet emerges from that womb of earth he is no longer "from himself taken away." He has been reborn as himself, the rational scholar from Wittenberg.

    Source(s): My website: Be All My Sins Remembered Essays on motifs, symbolism, & themes in Hamlet.
  • 9 years ago

    Act 4, Scene 6

    A sailor brings Horatio a letter from Hamlet. He writes of his capture by pirates on his way to England. These "thieves of mercy" have released the Prince, on the condition that he will repay them when he returns to Denmark. Hamlet finishes the letter by asking Horatio to come to him at once, and to ensure that the King receive letters intended only for him. Finally, Hamlet writes that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have continued their course for England. Horatio grants the sailor permission to take the letters to the King, imploring him to return swiftly, so that they can meet with Hamlet at once.

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