Hamlet Act 2

1-83 Why is Polonius sending Reynaldo to Paris? When he gets to Paris, Reynaldo is supposed to meet with friends and acquaintances of Laertes and say what about Laertes? Why? What does this exchange between Reynaldo and Polonius tell us about Polonius? Reynaldo to Paris: to spy on Laertes in France to make sure he is not messing up his reputation; doesn’t want any scandalshe is supposed to ask if Laertes has been involved in any dishonorable acts, such as partying, brothels, drinking, prostitutes, etc.this exchange says that Polonius does not trust his own son, so no known reason
85ff. What has happened between Hamlet and Ophelia? (Don’t forget lines 119-22.) What is the picture of Hamlet that we get in this description? What is the interpretation that Polonius and Ophelia put on Hamlet’s actions? Does Polonius re-assess his earlier opinion of Hamlet? Was he right before, or now, or neither? Are Hamlet’s actions a reflection of some genuine emotion, or is he “putting on an antic disposition”? Hamlet + Ophelia: Hamlet accosted her by coming in breathless, grabbing her by the arms, and just staring at her for a few minutes without saying anything, then leavingout of character for Hamlet, another sign of “insanity”, also could suggest that he is love crazyPolonius demanded that Ophelia deny his letters and access to herwe get a picture of the insane, begrudged Hamlet here –his first act of “false” insanityPolonius shifts his opinion of Hamlet as someone who is simply crazy, to someone who is simply love crazy (he seems to think this is the better of the two)he was right in neither opinions because Hamlet is only pretending to be crazyHamlet’s actions are both a reflection of his love for Ophelia (a genuine emotion) and “putting on an antic disposition” in order to persuade her and others of his insanity
1-42. Claudius tells boyhood friends of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, of the “need . . . to use” them. What does he want them to do? What, according to Claudius, has given rise to this need? How does this scene build on the previous one? Given their quite brief appearance, what do you think of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern so far? Claudius wants them to spy on Hamlet and discover the cause of his newfound insanity –“too much changed son” (ii. 48)Claudius would also like to keep tabs on Hamlet’s emotional state in relation to his father’s death.this investigation is needed because of Hamlet accosting Ophelia and just generally acting crazy– maybe to protect Claudius’ reputation and the integrity of Denmark as a wholethis scene builds on the previous one because it is trying to amend the cause of Hamlet’s insanity, esp. accosting Ophelia, and Claudius has seemingly moved pass his need for Hamlet to like him to his need to protect the reputation of DenmarkR & G seem sleezy/slimy to me because they are so willing to betray the trust of their friend Hamlet by the order of the King
64-85. What news—and what proposal—does Voltemand bring from Norway about Fortinbras? Voltemand notifies King Claudius that Young Fortinbras was amassing an army with the intention of attacking Denmark by pretending to attack Poland. However, Young Fortinbras’ aging and ill uncle (the current king of Norway) reprimanded, arrested (?), and punished him. Young Fortinbras then actually vowed to attack Poland. (he got rewarded for this promise)Voltemand then brought forth Young Fortinbras’ request to pass peacefully through Denmark in order to invade Poland.
93ff. Having read his speeches in I.iii to Laertes and then to Ophelia, and seen his use of Reynaldo in II.i, what do you make of Polonius’s speeches here? The queen’s response (“More matter with less art”) suggests what about Polonius? What plan does Polonius suggest for confirming his explanation of Hamlet’s behavior? I think Polonius is a good father as he tailors his speeches according to how he perceives his children and how he knows their behavior. His actions, I think, come from his fatherly instincts to protect his daughter’s virtue and keep his son out of further trouble. However, whether or not he should go to such extremes as sending Reynaldo to spy on his son are questionable choices. Queen Gertrude’s response suggests that Polonius comes up with very elaborate and complicated plots to protect his children. “More matter with less art” perhaps is her way of saying that he needs to focus on actually communicating with his children and finding results to his quarries instead of trying to creatively work around them. Polonius suggests letting Ophelia loose as bait for Hamlet in order to observe how he reacts to her interactions after he received the cold shoulder. Both Claudius and he will spy on Hamlet to see what type of mental state he shows when in Ophelia’s company.
190ff. Is Hamlet’s conversation with Polonius an example of the “antic disposition”? What do you make of Hamlet’s making a connection between “good kissing carrion” (198) and Polonius having a daughter. What is the pun on “conception” (201)? What is the “method” in Hamlet’s madness, as Polonius puts it? I think the conversation between Polonius and Hamlet is an example of “antic disposition” because Hamlet replies very sarcastically with the hopes of bothering Polonius. Hamlet perhaps knows that it is he who has ordered Ophelia to stay away from him. “good kissing carrion” = a good piece of flesh for the sun to kiss (according to the text)Apparently this is a reference to something sexual? The sun breeds maggots. Polonius became a father spontaneously. Hamlet later asks if Ophelia would become a breeder of sinners. Here sun relates to Hamlet’s father who was like Hyperion, the sun-god. If Hamlet breeds true to his old stock, he and his son will both be like Hamlet’s dead father. If Ophelia conceives a child with Hamlet, she will be breeding sinners — maggots to eat the dead of future wars. <- Yahoo Conception as in relating to knowledge/ conception as in relating to conceiving a child. Hamlet and Polonius have weird convos about Ophelia …. The "method to the madness" described by Polonius suggests that even though Hamlet is saying all sorts of things in weird ways, most of them do make sense! Also, it seems that Polonius recognizes that Hamlet is not totally clueless and that he is trying to anger/get under Polonius' skin with every sarcastic remark.
Voltimand and Cornelius Courtiers whom Claudius sends to Norway to persuade the king to prevent Fortinbras from attacking.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior.
Reynaldo Polonius’s servant, who is sent to France by Polonius to check up on and spy on Laertes.
What is the name of the play to be preformed? The Murder of Gonzago
258ff. After the joke-filled greeting, how do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern interact with Hamlet? What do you think of their role in this scene? Are they being good friends? What do they suspect is the matter with him? When do you think Hamlet becomes suspicious of them? Their interaction is tense, especially from Hamlet side as he is not dumb and growing suspicious of their presence Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are manipulated by the entire royal family. They are constantly trying to not offend anyone and to always say the right things. They are also both extraordinarily similar, hinting at their lack of importance and role as “questioners” of Hamlet and nothing else (they don’t serve any major role in the plot, they are only there for Hamlet to figure his stuff out)Hamlet becomes suspicious around line 292 when Rosencrantz says “to visit you my lord, no other occasion” → the fact that he said no other occasion gets hamlet thinking. Then Guildensern further makes Hamlet suspicious by saying “What should we say, my lord?”–> He does not even stick to his story. “you were sent for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to color.” line 300.. so they also have a guilty look on their faceThey are not being good friends, they are simply trying to please the king and queen and trying to help Hamlet just because thats what the king and queen want
271-84. What is Hamlet’s ambition? What does Hamlet conclude from Rosencrantz’s notion that ambition is but a shadow’s shadow? Hamlet’s ambition is to craft the perfect revenge scheme? Hamlet basically says that if that is true, beggars are the ones with bodies, while ambitious kings and heroes are just the shadows of beggars. essentially, Hamlet thinks that kings are only what beggars think them up to be (goes back to theme of what seems and what is)It could also mean that ambition is not a true quality and that it is short-lived and only used for dark purposes? thats why its a shadow? :(Hamlet merely alludes to his specific ambition, so R & G try to pull it out of him to no availThey suggest that since his ambition is so big, it makes Denmark feel like “a prison”ambition is but a shadow’s shadow: although Hamlet tries to derail the conversation with talks of “bad dreams”, R suggests that ambitions become clear through dreams (ambition is but a shadow of a dream)Hamlet responds with “a dream itself is but a shadow”: suggesting that a dream is only an insubstantial version of reality — esp. real life sucksHamlet concludes from R’s final comment that ambition is but a shadow’s shadow: that R & G are surely up to no good (suspicious) and that R finds ambition to be of no importance (“I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.”)
318-34. What view of the world and of man is expressed and then rejected by Hamlet? negative view of world: “the earth seems to me a sterile promotory” and “a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors”positive view of world: “excellent canopy, the air…majestical roof” = while others see freedom, Hamlet sees oppressionnegative view of man: “what a piece of work is a man”…”yet to me, [he] is the quintessence of dust”positive view of man: “noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, like an angel, like a god”
340ff. Much of the rest of the scene is taken up by the discussion of and meeting with the players (the theatrical troupe). How does Hamlet respond to their presence? Why? Hamlet is excited by their presence – chooses to use it as an opportunity to proving his uncle’s guilttheme – that real life is in certain ways like play-acting Hamlet – amazed by the player king’s ability to engage emotionally with the story he is telling even though it is only an imaginative recreationHamlet is prevented from responding to his own situation because he doesn’t have certain knowledge about it, but the player king, and theater audiences in general, can respond feelingly even to things they know to be untrue. His refusal to act like he knows what he’s doing when he really doesn’t may be construed as heroic and appropriate, or quixotic and impossible. In either case, Hamlet’s plan to trap the king by eliciting an emotional response is highly unsound: Claudius’s feelings about a play could never be construed as a reliable index of its truth.
554-59. What does Hamlet’s insistence that the players be treated well tell us about him? What theological truth and what personal outlook are suggested in this response to Polonius? I.e., “Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping.” Shows Hamlets humanity – not too good for his own good cares about that well-being of others also may want to treat them will so they will adapt the play to his wishes Polonius thinks it’s beneath him to be real nice to a bunch of traveling players, and answers that he will “use them according to their desert””Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping” – If you pay everyone what they deserve, would anyone ever escape a whipping?
576-634. Hamlet’s second soliloquy! How has the Player’s performance moved Hamlet to self-rebuke? What accusation does Hamlet make against himself? What do you think of the tone of Hamlet’s soliloquy, especially after seeing an actor at work? Does the tone change at 610, when Hamlet calls himself an ass? Why does he say this? What plan does Hamlet unfold beginning at line 617? Why does he see the need for such a plan? Do you accept this explanation, or is there something else behind Hamlet’s plan? If so, what? Hamlet compares himself to the player in the speech – dealing with drama in his own life (father’s death)however – they are different because he cannot show any emotion and is unable to move forward Speech – about son avenging father’s death Hamlet questions why he does not have this same strength/will powerDecides he need to get his act togetherwants to figure out if the ghost was actually telling the truth coming up with a plan to prove if uncle is guilty taking action – realizes an opportunity to discover the truth amidst deception
Quote ID Options PoloniusKingGertrudeHamletReynaldoRosencrantz & GuildenstienVoltemand & CorneliusPlayer
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