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Hamlet Act II - Discovery
Transcript of Hamlet Act II - Discovery
The newly inaugurated king of Denmark who stole his brother's crown and wife. He is concerned over the fact that Hamlet's madness could be his undoing.
In Act II, Hamlet refers to Polonius as a "tedious, old fool" and taunts him as a latter day "Jeptha".
Self-assured, cynical, and devious; he orders his servant Reynaldo to spy on his own son.
Sending Reynaldo to spy on Laertes in Paris shows his sly and intrusiveness.
Polonius' ability to maneuver a conversation reveal his inept skills of manipulation. He recognizes that Hamlet's madness has a certain pattern to it through their conversations and his observations.
Outwardly shows his selfishness through his expressions.
Champagne taste on a beer budget
Surrounded by the mischievousness of court life, he gives into the temptation of scheming his way to the top.
The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius' court, a pompous, conniving, old man. Father of Ophelia and Laertes.
The tragic hero of the play, he is the son of Gertrude and stepson of Claudius. In this part of the play he is a mission to find his father's murderer.
: The ever-maddening prince who once brought hope for his country's future but now all is lost: "Something have you heard of Hamlet's "transformation" - so call if since nor th' exterior not the inward man resembles that it was" (II, II, 4-7).
: Brave, gallant, and filial, Hamlet is a dutiful young prince who will on day secede to the throne and avenge his father's death.
: The further Hamlet delves into his revenge, the madder he appears. When he finally decides on a course of action, he is relieved and relents into a state of madness.
: He can easily turn around a conversation and completely fool his recipient: "Excellent well. You are a fishmonger" (II, II, 175). Hamlet blindly redirects his conversations with Polonius to focus on something else.
: As a prince, Hamlet is supposed to show the image of a manicured, educated man but as his plot to the find the killer thickens, he becomes more disheveled and frazzled.
: Hamlet acts the part of a madman in order to expedite his agenda.
: The environment in which Hamlet is placed is a key factor in his madness. The fact that his mother married his uncle immediately after his father's death would drive anyone into madness.
: A vile and scheming king who will do anything to get what he wants. He serves no one but himself and desires nothing but to be full of power and free of any burdens.
: Claudius is a brother, who in times of great despair, has taken up his filial duty and accepted the burden of ruling in his brother's stead. The concern that he has for his nephew is one of fatherly-love: “What it should be, More than his father’s death, that thus hath put him So much form th’ understanding of himself, I cannot dream of” (II, II, 7-10).
: He his his dastardly deeds trough his concern for his nephew, who has coincidentally
: The way he speaks is concurrent with his actions, he tries to cover-up his agenda to get rid of Hamlet by showing concern for his nephew's imminent madness.
: With his newly sprouted wealth, Claudius is decked out in all of the royal jewels with Gertrude on his arm as an added accessory.
: Claudius acts the part of a devoted uncle so well that the entire court believes his charade.
: Being in court, Claudius is surrounded by varying examples of people scheming in different ways in order to attain some sort of power, which influences him to seek his own power.
He is in the service of the King of Denmark. Reynaldo is basically a nobleman who delivers messages for people in court.
: Reynaldo is looked upon as a simpleton who needs the guidance of those in power to help him move about in life.
: Official, important, friendly, caring, and honorable. He generally cares about the well being of others: "My lord, that would dishonor him!" (II, I, 27).
: Reynaldo is an honorable man that cares greatly about others.
: "Very good my lord" (II, I, 48). Reynaldo is very obedient and respectful in his speech and actions.
: Reynaldo presents himself wit great dignity an uprightness.
: Reynaldo is a flat character but resembles the standard filial servant of the time, by his obedience and straightforwardness.
: Reynaldo sends lot of his time taking orders, usually only deals with one person at a time, and is by himself most of the time.
She is the meek and naive young woman who has captured Hamlet's attentions. New to love, she does not really know what to do in this situation and follows the customs of her society and obeys her father's judgement on the matter.
: Ophelia is seen as an innocent and charming young woman who could one day be the queen of Denmark. She is also used as a pawn by her father's plan because of her purity.
: Modest, shy, feminine, and upstanding. Ophelia truly values her virtue but loves Hamlet at the same time and is torn about what to do: "I did repel his fetters and denied his access to me" (II, I, 109-110).
: Ophelia is very flighty and gets frightened easily because she is simply inexperienced in the world: "O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!" (II, I, 75).
: Confident in her speech but not her actions, Ophelia speaks to her father with conviction that her feelings will come across to him faithfully.
: Because she is a lady of the upper class, Ophelia presents herself with grace and elegance. She is poised and gentle in her speech and outward appearance.
: Ophelia, at this point in the play, is a flat character because she doesn't provide much, or any, action or effect to the play.
: Ophelia is constantly accompanied by someone or being watched, as is custom for a young woman in her times.
Line 30: "My lord, that would dishonor him!"
Reynaldo is astonished that Polonius would even dream of spying on his own son and endanger his reputation, let alone do anything that could affect Polonius' own.
Line 111-113: "That hath made him mad. I am sorry that with better judgement I had not quoted him."
Polonius misjudged Hamlet's affections towards Ophelia as a simple fling that would not hold up.
Polonius: "As it hath used to do - that I have found the very cause of Hamlet's lunacy"
Claudius: "Oh, speak of that. That I do long to hear."
Polonius, being the dutiful subject of the King, immediately brings him the news of Hamlet's madness. Polonius bring this to the King's attention in hopes of gaining more favor with the King and promoting himself. Claudius is excited to hear news because he if can find the reason for Hamlet's madness, then he can deal with him and have no more threat to his power.
Voltemand: "Makes vow before his uncle never more to give th' assay of arms against your majesty."
Voltemand's message to the King sets the background for what is happening in Denmark at the time of the play. This also foreshadows Fortinbras' future arrival in Denmark, when he obeys his promise and instead comes in peace.
Polonius: "Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit."
Polonius is trying to make a point; basically he is saying that the essence of wisdom is cherishing the words spoken and not the lengthiness of the speech. He is about to tell Gertrude and Claudius what he has found out about Hamlet's madness but he can't seem to get the point across.
Gertrude: "More matter, with less art."
Polonius has just announced that he has found the source of Hamlet's madness but continues to talk in circles. Gertrude finally has enough of this and tells Polonius to get to the point. This is significant because, Gertrude usually comes across very flighty, but when it comes to Hamlet, she is sharp as a tack.
Scene II (continued)
Polonius: "Madam, I swear I use no art at all. That he is mad, 'tis true. Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true - a foolish figure, but farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then. And now remains that we find out the cause of this effect, or rather say, the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by cause. Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend. I have a daughter - have while she is mine - who in her duty and obedience, mark, hath given me this. Now gather and surmise. (reads letter) "To the celestial and my soul's idol, th most beautified Ophelia" - That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase. "Beautified" is a vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus: (reads letter) "In her excellent white bosom, these," etc. -
Polonius directly goes against what he says will do: get to he point. He is going about the task of declaring that Hamlet is mad in the absolute slowest way that he can, by drawing out every little detail that he can. At the end he finally tells them of Hamlet; solve towards Ophelia and answers their impending question.
Polonius: "And he repelled - a short tale to make - fell into sadness, then into a fast, thence to a watch, thence into a weakness, thence to a lightness, and, by this declension, into the madness wherein now he raves and all we mourn for."
Polonius FINALLY has given the answer to why Hamlet has become mad. The reasons he gives is all signs of love-sickness. This is significant because it shows how easily Polonius can create a large story off of a small love letter.
Scene II (continued)
Polonius: "I will find where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed within the center."
Claudius: "How may we try it further?"
Polonius: "You know sometimes he walks four hours together here in the lobby."
Gertrude: "So he is indeed."
Polonius: "At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him. (TO CLAUDIUS) Be you and I behind an arras then, mark the encounter. If he loves her not and be not from his reason fall'n thereon, let me be no assistant for a state but keep a farm and carters.
Claudius: We will try it.
Polonius' scheming goes beyond the matters of his family but travel into the matters of state. He is working for Claudius, in hopes of somehow attaining a form of reward for himself. The significance of his mentioning Hamlet's nightly habits is that he has eyes all over the palace and sees everything.
: Gertrude is the face of the monarchy after her husband dies, but left with this responsibility she soon throws away all of her troubles when she marries Claudius.
: Regal, elegant, and poised, Gertrude is all that a queen should be. She does what needs to be done so that her country is secure and that her son will ultimately follow in the steps of her husband. Gertrude believes that her son can do no wrong and fights to see his madness ended: "I doubt it is no other but the main: his father's death and our o'erhasty marriage" (II, II, 56-57).
: Gertrude is a caring mother who does all that she can in order to make sure that Hamlet, her son, is cured of his apparent madness: "Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz. And I beseech you instantly to visit too much changed son. Go, some of you, and begin these gentlemen where Hamlet is" (II, II, 34-37).
: Gertrude shows her status an elegance in when she speaks. As royalty, she must speak eloquently and beautifully in order to show others that she is educated and therefore suited to rule.
: Gertrude is dignified in her actions and the way in which she speaks. Although she has her faults, it does not mean that she completely forgets all of her lessons that she was taught in order to fulfill her position as queen.
: Gertrude is te stereotypical woman of the times She acts an looks polished but on the inside is easily swayed by her emotions and is gullible to men.
: Gertrude, like Ophelia, is never completely alone because she lives in court. She surrounds herself only with pleasant things in order to distract herself from the guilt the shadows her past decisions.
She is the reckless, irresponsible, careless queen of Denmark. Gertrude married Claudius, her brother-in-law, either by manipulation or plain stupidity. Her lover for her son and her lust for her new bridegroom puts her in a compromising situation between the schemes of two very powerful men.
A messenger along with Voltemand. He enters the scene and then leaves along with Voltemand after he has given his message to Claudius. Cornelius does not speak but is only mentioned in the stage notes.
A friend of Hamlet and the messenger of King Claudius. He is summoned by the monarchy to find the cause of Hamlet's madness and to overall just cheer him up. Rosencrantz is a friendly and amiable character.
: Rosencrantz is a loyal subject of the monarchy of Denmark. He has been friend to Hamlet since they were young and is concerned that his friend has apparently gone mad.
: An upstanding, loyal, and amiable character that fulfills that task that he is given. He is a true friend to Hamlet as well, and does his best to get to the root of the problem: "Both your majesties might, by the sovereign power you have of us, put your dread pleasures more into command than to entreaty" (II, II, 25-28). Rosencrantz is more than willing to help with Hamlet.
: Rosencrantz is one of the monarchs' solutions to finding the cause of Hamlet's madness. he does not really do much of anythig on his own but only dies what he is told. Rosencrantz is a flat character tat oly does what he is told and does what he is told and does not really do anything out of his own free will: "My lord, thee was no such stuff in my thoughts" (II, II, 306).
: Rosencrantz does not reveal anything personal about himself through his speech or actions. The only thing that the reader knows about Rosencrantz is what he does through his orders.
: Rosencrantz is a standard nobleman by his actions and his speech. The way in which he acts and speaks does not reveal anything about his inner character other tan that he is a upstanding citizen to be the monarchy.
: There is no real depth to Rosencrantz because nothing other than his position is presented.
: Rosencrantz is always on a mission from the monarchs and therefore is never given leisurely time to be alone other than the time between missions.
Act Two only has one soliloquy; it is at the end of the act where Hamlet reflects on his advances in his plan for revenge. The weight of task that the ghost has charged Hamlet with has paused far and has not made much progress. This spurs his courage to enact his plan to begin. He will judge Claudius and discover if he actually did commit his father's murder by his reaction to the play that Hamlet has written.
Chain of Being
Existential Traits of Hamlet
"To Be or Not to Be" Speech
: Hamlet conflates life with action, and death with non-action. Existentialists believe in creating meaning in their lives, rather than relating the meaning of their existence to the desires and whims of higher beings (gods).
: Hamlet is obsessed with his pursuit of determining the reason for his existence. For Hamlet, the question is "To be, or not to be" (III, I, 56). He is confounded by the purpose of his life, which gradually realizes is to avenge his father's death.
: Hamlet lacks the ability to make decisions hastily; he hesitates and ponders extended periods of time before arriving at a decision.
: He avoids responsibility and is reluctant to enact the promise he has made with his father. For instance, Hamlet restrains himself for killing Claudius while he is praying.
: Ham;let exemplifies a person who strives for justice no matter how comprehensive the consequences may be. He had finally killed Claudius for his father's planned death even though he sacrificed his own life in the process. Horatio attempts to kill himself by drinking the remnants of the poisoned wine for Hamlet, but Hamlet stops him and asks him to tell the people of Denmark Hamlet's story. Hamlet is to be used as a model or representation of man seeking his identity.
: He not only participates in his own life, but he also observes the life around him and understands the causes and effects.
1. Why doesn't Hamlet further investigate Guildenstern and Rosencrantz? How does he know they were sent for, and why does he stop questioning before discovery why they were sent?
2. Has Hamlet truly lost his mind? Is he acting strange to attract attention, or did the discovery of his father's murder actually drive him to insanity? If not, then why is Hamlet acting out of character?
3. Is Hamlet's love for Ophelia true or superficial? What prompts Hamlet to enter (and then exit) Ophelia's room, looking scared, pale, and deranged?
4. What is significant about Fortinbras' plan to invade Poland? How does he foreshadow the events in Act VI?
5. What is Polonius' motive for finding th cause of Hamlet's madness? What does he have to gain?
6. What is the importance of Jepthath? How does he relate to Polonius? What roles does Ophelia play in this reference?
7. Who wrote Murder of Gonzago? Why does Hamlet want the players to act it out? What is significant about this play?
8. What is the purpose of a soliloquy? What is Hamlet trying to say in his soliloquy? Do you feel it concludes the act, why or why not?
9. T or F: Polonius wants to ruin Laertes reputation.
10. T or F: Hamlet has the players perform a play written by William Shakespeare.
11. T or F: Guildenstern works for the King of Normandy.
12. T or F: Hamlet does not sympathize with the players and instead hires child actors instead.
13. T or F: Guildenstern and Rosencrantz agree with Hamlet that Denmark is a prison.
14. T or F: Claudius and Gertrude asked Guildenstern ad Rosencrantz to come to Denmark to kill Hamlet.
15. T or F: Polonius ask Reynaldo to create rumors about Laertes and kill him.
Character Relationships by Scene
: The King of Denmark starts to become suspicious of Hamlet’s actions as the act begins. The rising absurdity of Hamlet’s actions spurs Claudius’ scheme to unfold to get to the root of Hamlet’s madness.
: Denmark’s queen is concerned about why Hamlet’s mind has become clouded with madness. As she comes up empty-handed in her quest, her determination is reinforced. Gertrude is a very flighty character whose gullibility transcends not only to her thoughts but also to her decisions.
: When assigned to the task of gathering information regarding Laertes, Reynaldo is indifferent. As Polonius delves into entirety of the task, Reynaldo shows concern for Laertes’ reputation. He is hesitant to complete his job but is coerced into it in the end.
: In the beginning, Polonius’ scheming towards Laertes shows his cunning nature. His ulterior motives come to light when his scheming travels into the business of his daughter’s love affair and ultimately into raising his status in court. As the act ends, Polonius’ greed to gain more power goes all the way when he tries to manipulate Hamlet.
: Voltemand is introduced in the middle of the act and therefore does not have that much development throughout the act. He simply delivers a message about Fortinbras and leaves.
: In the beginning of the act, Rosencrantz is a messenger. He changes roles and evolves into a doting friend.
: Like Rosencrantz, Guildenstern is a messenger turned friend. His emotions are not portrayed through his actions but when he speaks his concern for Hamlet is shown.
: In scene one, Hamlet is not physically there but the thoughts of others about him portray that he has sunken into madness. In scene two, Hamlet first appears and talks to Polonius, assuring him of his madness. His emotions are easily swayed and he is very fragile. He regains his wits when he talks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and describes his depression because of his surroundings. Hamlet becomes jovial when the players from his childhood come to court. He spirits rise when he comes up with the idea to seek his revenge by having the players act out the play that he wrote.
Analysis of Plot
Polonius works for the king in order to promote himself in society. By doing the King’s dirty work, Claudius appears as a rightful and just king. Polonius makes it mandatory for Ophelia to report all of her dealings with Hamlet in order to catch any detail that could be worth something to Claudius. Ophelia meekly responds to her father’s demands because of her naivety in love and it is her societal duty as an unmarried woman to keep her virtue. In the world that she lives in, Ophelia must be obedient to her father if she wants to have a good marriage and future. Many of the characters in this act are untrustworthy and are out for their own personal gain. Claudius looks for any and all ways that he can get rid of Hamlet and no longer has a threat for the monarchy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are very sneaky as well; they present themselves to Hamlet only because they were instructed by the king and queen to get at the root of Hamlet’s madness. Hamlet prevents a puzzling question to the reader because it is unclear whether he is acting mad or has truly gone insane. By his affections and actions it is clear that he still loves Ophelia but his vendetta clouds his vision. Gertrude is a blind goat trying to climb a mountain. She does not fully understand what is going on and blindly follows what Claudius tells her to do because she believes herself to be in love. Hamlet finds the source of his revenge when the players come to town. He produces the play in order to discover the true meaning behind his father’s death. Hamlet feels betrayed by his mother and uncle. Through the play he will be able to discover their true motives and finally come to peace will his father’s death.
Scene II (continued)
Polonius: "(aside) Though this be madness, yet there be is method in't - (to Hamlet) Will you walk out of the air, my lord?"
Polonius notices that Hamlet's madness has a certain pattern to it. This brings up the entire question that emanates the entire play: Is Hamlet truly mad? He is acting or simply mad? These questions are all raised when Polonius makes this comment.
Hamlet: "What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"
This is Hamlet reflecting on the wonder of man. He is amazed at the different aspects of man and how they use those aspects to scheme, manipulate, and live.
Hamlet: "O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!"
In the Bible, Jephthah unwittingly sacrifices his daughter by making a vow too hastily. This relates to Polonius because he offers his daughter up to Hamlet too soon. She falls for him but in his madness loses all senses and she is left alone. This foreshadows her death because she is so depressed by her father's death and Hamlet's abandonment that she can think of nothing else but death.