Hamlet's Guilt for Polonius' Murder

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 504 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 504|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

The play Hamlet by William Shakespeare has always been known for its complex characters and intricate plot. One of the most debated aspects of the play is the murder of Polonius by Hamlet. Polonius was a trusted advisor to King Claudius, and Hamlet mistook him for Claudius and killed him. This act of violence has led to the question of whether Hamlet should be held accountable for Polonius' death. This essay will argue that Hamlet is indeed guilty for Polonius' murder, using textual evidence, character analysis, and moral reasoning to support this claim.
To begin with, there is textual evidence to suggest that Hamlet is responsible for Polonius' death. In Act III, Scene 4, Hamlet confronts his mother, Queen Gertrude, in her chamber. During their conversation, Polonius, who is behind the arras (a curtain or wall hanging), tries to listen in on their conversation. Hamlet, thinking it is Claudius, stabs through the arras and kills Polonius. This is evident when he says: "how now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!" (III.iv.25-26). This line clearly shows Hamlet's intention to kill Claudius, and his lack of awareness that he had actually killed Polonius. Furthermore, in Act IV, Scene 1, Claudius is questioning Hamlet about the whereabouts of Polonius, to which Hamlet responds: "at supper...not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him" (IV.i.26-29). This response, while evasive, clearly shows that Hamlet knows Polonius is dead and that he is responsible for his death.
Moreover, analyzing Hamlet's character can also shed light on his guilt for Polonius' murder. Hamlet is a complex character who is plagued by indecision and is often portrayed as a tragic hero. However, his actions towards Polonius are indicative of his guilt. Hamlet, in his insensible rage, kills an innocent man who was only trying to do his job. Polonius may have not been a likable character but killing him was unjustified and hamlet expresses remorse after resolving the cloud of his indecision.
Lastly, it is important to consider the moral implications of the issue. Even though Polonius was not a likable character, he did not deserve to die, especially at the hands of someone who was clearly not in their right mind. Taking someone's life without justification is a criminal act, and Hamlet's actions are no exception. It is essential to uphold the principle that killing is wrong, and the law should reflect this principle, regardless of the specifics of the case.
In conclusion, the evidence suggests that Hamlet is responsible for Polonius' death. The textual evidence and character analysis both point to Hamlet's guilt. Moreover, looking through the lens of the moral implication of the issue also strengthens the argument that Hamlet is guilty. While it is true that Polonius was a rather notorious character, this does not justify the act of killing him. Hamlet needs to take responsibility for his actions and suffer the consequences of them. This will not only ensure accountability but will also uphold the principles of ethics and justice.

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Hamlet’s Guilt for Polonius’ Murder. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Hamlet’s Guilt for Polonius’ Murder.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
Hamlet’s Guilt for Polonius’ Murder. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Hamlet’s Guilt for Polonius’ Murder [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 06 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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