ACT II HAMLET
Scene 1 • Ophelia is reporting to her father about Hamlet and his general disarray. • Polonius thinks it is lovesickness and goes off to tell the king. • Claudius is with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two friends from Hamlet’s school who are meant to discover the root of his sadness.
Scene 2 • Ambassador of Norway interrupts Polonius • Fortinbras’s plan has been thwarted by the Norwegian king. He wants to pass through Denmark on his way to Poland. • Polonius shows the king and queen a love letter from Hamlet and suggests that as the cause of his madness.
Hamlet approaches and Polonius tries to make small talk. • Hamlet makes lots of grotesque double meanings • As an audience we are unsure if this his “antic disposition” or his true feelings • His comments return to the themes of sexuality, death, and birth • At this point the play is inviting psychological speculation, but no easy answers to Hamlet’s psyche
Hamlet is joined by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern • After banter, Hamlet forces them to admit they were sent by Claudius • They tell him that a group of actors is set to arrive at the palace. • Momentarily drops his antic manner, when the players arrive Hamlet recites lines with them.
Why is Hamlet’s revenge taking so long to develop? • Hamlet has not done anything to further his plans and he is also doubting himself. • 2nd soliloquy he is contrasting the actors passion with his inability to launch a plan. • Finds himself too thoughtful and too wordy. • “Prompted” – an actor gets a prompt when he forget his lines. • Hamlet describes his father’s command as his call to action.
This implies that while Hamlet knows what he should do as a loyal son he feels like an actor preparing for a role. • He feels as though he lacks the passion to murder. • It does occur to him, in the end of the soliloquy that the ghost might have been lying, he might just be justifying his lack of action.
Hamlet decides to test the ghost’s story by having the players enact a murder resembling Old Hamlet’s in the court. • If Claudius acts guilty when he sees his own treachery staged, then the ghost’s story can be believed.