Hamlet: Act 1 Scene 4 - Summary

Back to Courses

Hamlet: Act 1 Scene 4 - Notes

Contextual Info:

  • Hamlet Act 1 Scene 4 involves Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost, and the scene occurs in a location near/similar to where Horatio and the guards last saw the ghost

Plot Summary:

  • In the background, the sounds of Claudius’ inauguration party (with lots of booze) can be heard
  • Hamlet criticizes this traditional drinking ceremony, commenting on the fact that a single mistake (like a tradition of drinking too much) can make the entire nation look bad - this can be seen as a metaphor of Claudius ruining the quality of Denmark
  • The ghost appears and Hamlet begins to speak to it - he goes so far as to call the ghost “Hamlet,” “King,” and even “Father” (1.4.49-50)
  • Hamlet asks the ghost what it wants, but the ghost merely signals for Hamlet to follow it away from the castle
  • Horatio and Marcellus strongly disagree with the notion of Hamlet going off to speak to this ghost alone, since they’re still unsure of its intentions, and they try to hold Hamlet back, but Hamlet draws his sword and demands that they let him go after the ghost
  • Hamlet exits the scene, chasing the ghost, and Horatio and Marcellus decide to follow their friend and prince
  • Near the end of the scene, Marcellus gives the chilling words “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (1.4.100)

Are the line numbers different in your book? Here’s why:

There are many different versions of Shakespeare’s works throughout the world, and different versions sometimes interpret dialogue line numbers differently. At Nerdstudy, we follow the Folger version of Shakespeare’s works, which may be different from the version you are using. Always make sure that you refer to your instructor’s recommendations about which version of the play you’re using in class and whether they will grade you based on accuracy of line numbers for essays, tests, and assignments. Folger Digital Texts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license.

As Hamlet and his men await the ghost, what are Claudius and Gertrude doing?

Partying all night
Praying to the gods
Waiting for the ghost as well
Planning an attack unto Poland
Login to try these questions

Which of the following, as spoken by Horatio, could be seen as worse than dying?

Having to serve Claudius as the king.
Having to see Gertrude (Prince Hamlet's mother) being happily married to Claudius (Prince Hamlet's father).
Becoming crazy (losing one's mind).
Having to go back to university to study.
Login to try these questions

How does the ghost respond when Hamlet asks the ghost its purpose?

He gestures for Hamlet to kill his mother
He gestures for Hamlet to kill himself
He gestures for Hamlet to kill Claudius
He gestures for Hamlet to follow
Login to try these questions

Hamlet states that he will follow the ghost in spite of the possible danger - why could this be?

He is young and reckless
He has gone mad
He had a prophetic dream about following the ghost
He does not care for his own life
Login to try these questions