I was making some guesses where “incensed” comes from and I thought maybe it was connected to our senses – that it suggested a kind of loss of sense – related to sensibility – being insensible.
But I looked it up and it is related to fire. It’s earliest connection to Old French “encensen” which was to arouse or inspire and to Latin “incedere” to set on fire. Like something incendiary. So are Hamlet and Laertes burned up? Are they, not just furious, as it means now, but burning?
I’m not quite sure how Claudius means this. Is he just saying they’re mad? Separating fighters just for fury doesn’t seem quite right.
We know why they need to be separated – they’re fighting and drawing each other’s blood and killing each other, by the way.
But incensed is a curious word choice for Claudius.