Hamlet Act 3 Short Scene by Scene Summary & Analysis

Scene I

In the castle, King and Queen are with Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. King wants to know about the source of Hamlet’s dangerous lunacy. Rosencrantz informs him of Hamlet’s interest in the play which he wants to stage.

Polonius and King hide themselves to watch how Hamlet behaves with Ophelia when alone. Hamlet here begins his dialogue with the famous, “to be, or not to be: that’s the question.” He philosophically speculates on the nature of human beings.

Ophelia wants to return the gifts given by Hamlet. It infuriates Hamlet and he shouts at Ophelia to go and join a convent. King and Polonius watch everything from their hiding. King agrees to the earlier arguments made by Polonius regarding Hamlet’s madness.

Scene II

Hamlet is with the three of the actors. Hamlet instructs them about acting. He says the purpose of playing is to hold the mirror up to nature. Hamlet asks Horatio to observe his uncle’s face while the scene in the play similar to his father’s death comes.

The play is commenced whose storyline is that of the murder of Hamlet’s father. In the play, when the poison is poured into the ear of the sleeping player king,

Claudius, the king, grows uncomfortable to a point that he leaves the play. It confirms in Hamlet’s mind the words of the ghost. Rosencrantz and Polonius inform Hamlet that her mother wants to meet him.

Scene III

The king asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet along with them to England. Polonius informs him about Hamlet going to meet his mother.

Polonius thinks of his guilt and prays for some cure. Hamlet sees him praying and decides not to kill him because his death while praying may send him to heaven.

Scene IV

Polonius meets Gertrude in her private chamber and asks him to correct Hamlet whose behaviours have been recently beyond tolerance. He hides when Hamlet comes to her.

Gertrude fears that Hamlet in his rage may kill her so she shouts for help and Polonius answers from his hiding. Hamlet stabs him through the arras mistaking him for Claudius.

Polonius is killed and Hamlet notices him without any repent and shouts at his mother for her complicity after Claudius’s crime. Hamlet addresses her brutally to remind her of her deeds with someone so worthless.

The ghost enters the scene to correct Hamlet of his rashness towards his mother. Gertrude thinks Hamlet is mad and making up all these in his brain because she’s unable to see the ghost. Hamlet again calls down his mother and spite on the dead body of Polonius.