Most of the scenes in Act IV are pretty short, and I intend/hope to buzz through them a little more quickly. I'd hoped to finish this play off by Thanksgiving, and while I'm not sure that's feasible anymore, I'd still like to finish it before the second week of December. We shall see!
So this is a short scene where Claudius asks Gertrude what she learned from Hamlet, and we learn something very important: Gertrude is going to protect her son. She tells Claudius he is "[m]ad as the sea and wind when both contend Which is the mightier" (7-8). She blames his murder of Polonius on his madness, too.
Claudius mostly focuses on himself here -- he might have been the one killed instead of Polonius! He's going to get blamed for letting a madman run around Elsinore stabbing people! Oh dear! Time for some damage control! He's going to send Hamlet to England as quickly as possible, while figuring out a way to keep the people of Denmark from demanding he have Hamlet stand trial for the crime without getting in trouble himself.
See? Nice and short.
"Oh, come away!
My soul is full of discord and dismay" (45).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Do you think Gertrude is lying to Claudius like Hamlet asked her to, or might she think Hamlet is mad for real?