|What is ironic about Polonius’ attempt to learn about Laertes’ life in Paris?
|If Reynaldo follows Polonius’ instructions, he will essentially ruin Laertes’ reputation while trying to gather information.
|Why would Polonius immediately jump to the conclusion that Hamlet is mad for Ophelia’s love?
|Ophelia’s description of Hamlet in unfastened and rumpled clothing is the Renaissance convention of the “man suffering from unrequited love.” As Ophelia has broken off all contact with Hamlet — at Polonius’ command — he readily interprets his appearance and actions, as described by Ophelia, to be signs of unrequited love.
|Consider how the episode of Hamlet in Ophelia’s closet promises to contribute to the overall calamity of the tragic plot.
|Ophelia has now — intentionally or unintentionally — allied herself with those who (at least in Hamlet’s mind) oppose Hamlet. If Hamlet does indeed love Ophelia, then her breaking up with him is just another betrayal — like his mother’s hasty marriage and perhaps her role in his father’s murder. If he does not really love her, then he is using her to advance his madness ruse. In either event, she is now involved in the intrigue and corruption of the court and will probably not escape being destroyed in the calamity.
|Are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern willing spies for Claudius and Gertrude?
|Probably not. Gertrude flatters them by telling them that Hamlet often speaks of them as his favorite childhood friends and still feels a good bit of affection for them. Claudius frames his request in terms of two friends finding out what is wrong with third friend so that they can help his family find a remedy.
|What effect is created by the scenes between Hamlet and Polonius being in prose?
|Hamlet’s part of the dialogue relies on slang and puns. Shakespeare wants to emphasize these and not allow the audience/reader to lose them in the metrical pattern of blank verse. Polonius’ prose responses also highlight his foolishness and lack of wit.
|What are some of the slang expressions and puns Hamlet uses in his first exchange with Polonius? Why are they significant?
|First Hamlet calls Polonius a “fishmonger.” Polonius is fishing for answers. Fishmonger has also been generally regarded to mean some form of pimp, given the fact that Polonius first ordered his daughter to sever her relationship with Hamlet and then runs to the king excitedly to report that Hamlet is in love with her. He arranged to spy on Hamlet and Ophelia to increase his political influence with the king and queen.
|What is Hamlet’s initial reaction to the appearance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
|He comments to himself and the audience that they are “tedious old fools,” suggesting that they are not as dear to him as Claudius and Gertrude had presumed.
|Why are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hesitant to admit that they are in Elsinore because the king and queen sent for them?
|On the one hand, to admit that they were sent for might be to admit that they are spies. However, since they probably do not know that they are spies and honestly believe that they are on an errand of mercy, to admit that they were sent for could hurt their friend’s feelings; they did not think to come on their own but came when they were summoned. Note that they confess to being summoned only when Hamlet demands that, if they love him, they will tell him.
|Why does Shakespeare introduce a troupe of traveling players into the action of the play?
|he players will be the vehicle by which Shakespeare can evaluate various characters’ reactions to events and characters in the play. Hamlet can assess his own inaction in terms of the actor’s pretended grief. Hamlet (and the audience) can assess Gertrude’s lack of grief for her first husband’s death with the actor’s pretended grief. Hamlet can also use the scene portraying his father’s murder to observe Claudius’ and Gertrude’s rections.
|What does Hamlet’s expression of concern about the child actors used in the city contribute to the plot or to the development of his characters?
|This is a puzzling scene in that it does not seem to do either. Shakespeare, the playwright, head of a troupe of players, and owners of a theater, seems to be criticizing a current fashion, using his play and his stage simply to advance his own thoughts about the acting/theater profession.
|What is unusual about the player’s monologue about the Fall of Troy?
|The monologue is written and told from the Trojan point of view. Thus, the son of Achilles (a Greek Hero and the son of a Greek hero) is portrayed as the heartless villain.
Hamlet Act 2
August 14, 2019