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Act II: Rising Action Scene 1: Polonius' Room

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1 Act II: Rising Action Scene 1: Polonius' Room
Peculiar parenting and Ophelia's new relationship with Hamlet Scene 2: Elsinore Extremely Long! 5 parts: King and Queen ask Hamlet's childhood friends for help (1-40) News from Norway (62-90) Polonius and Hamlet's madness (91-237) Hamlet talks to friends ( ) A troupe of players (actors) arrive at Elsinore, players Hamlet intends to use against his uncle ( )

2 Act II: Scene 1 Polonius, Reynaldo, Ophelia
Polonius, for all his advice and apparent trust in Laertes, is not really letting Laertes be his own man. How so? What does it tell you about Polonius as a person and his parenting skills? What theme arises from the above? Ophelia seems to look for comfort from her father. Does he offer comfort to her?

3 Act II Scene 2 (Lines 1-40) Claudius and Gertrude seem legitimately upset about Hamlet: after Hamlet's interactions with the Ghost, do you trust them and their instincts? Do you think that Claudius is guilty? Do you think that Gertrude is complicit in Claudius' betrayal? What could be the king and queen's motives in digging up Hamlet's distress? Are they being good parents? Or are they being shrewd politicians?

4 Act II Scene 2 (Lines 62-90) Norway has just learned of Fortinbras' intentions against Denmark (as a result of the diplomatic mission embarked upon by Cornelius and Voltemand): Fortinbras has been stopped. Do you think that Fortinbras is sincere in stopping his revenge? This part of the scene is, in many ways, besides the point of Hamlet's revenge, but why might Shakespeare have included it?

5 Act II Scene 2 (Lines ) Polonius has a letter from Hamlet as "proof" of Hamlet's madness originating in unrequited love. Do you think that the letter confirms what Polonius believes? Is Hamlet sick with love over Ophelia? Is this part of Hamlet's "antic" act? Consider the plan that evolves from Polonius's "insights": Same questions as before... What could be the king and queen's motives in digging up Hamlet's distress? Again…Are they being good parents? Are they being shrewd politicians?

6 Act II Scene 2 (Lines ) Notice the shift to prose? What could be the purpose? To what extent is Hamlet playing with Polonius and to what extent is Hamlet actually "mad"? Fishmonger--reference to lower class, but also a pun: refers to the father of a whore (or pimp) To what extent is Polonius aware of Hamlet's wordplay? Is he even trying to make sense of Hamlet, or has he already convinced himself that Hamlet is mad?

7 Act II Scene 2 ( ) To what extent is Hamlet "testing the truthfulness" of his friends? Does Hamlet want to trust Rosencrantz and Guildensterm, or does he want to warn them that he knows of their "mission"? How does Hamlet conform to his "antic" acts in this scene? Is he truly mad at some of these moments? How could you tell? How does the appearance of madness give him opportunities to "test" the people of the court?

8 Jephtha (Bible) Jephtha: Old Testament—Judges 11
Made a vow to God before setting off for war: if he were to return home victorious, "whoever is the first to come through the doors of my house" to meet him would be sacrificed to God. He was victorious, but was met by his daughter. Connection to Polonius?

9 Pyrrhus (Mythology) Mirrors the story of Hamlet in many respects in that both experience triumphs, yet suffer the consequences of their actions. Pyrrhic Victory: derived from a battle which took place in 279 (Battle of Asculum) in which Pyrrhus was victorious over Rome, but lost many of his best soldiers. Other similarities? Priam’s murder parallels King Hamlet’s murder Pyrrhus – King Claudius Priam – King Hamlet Hecuba- Gertrude Differences: Hamlet and Pyrrhus have opposite personalities

10 Act II Scene 2 ( ) What does Hamlet's choice of speech ("Aeneas' tale to Dido... especially when he speaks of Priam's slaughter") reveal about his interest in the players? What value does Hamlet assign the players? Consider this question from two perspectives: What would Shakespeare want to imply about the value of theater? What is the value of assuming an appearance that communicates truth, even if the appearance is not "truth"? Why is acting truthful?

11 Hamlet's Soliloquy: The Conflict
Soliloquies are always moments of internal conflict for Hamlet: What details, language, and syntax and diction reveal the nature of his conflict here? What figurative language enhances his attitude towards himself? What do line breaks (especially 585, 609, and 610) do to structure his response?

12 Soliloquy (cont) Hamlet has some resolution by the end of the speech: what does he intend to do and why? What are the merits of his plan? What are the problems? But wait, Hamlet seems to be doubting his father's truthfulness! Find the lines. What does this impulse of "testing truthfulness" reveal about Hamlet? Is he mad? Does the self-doubt make his character seem stronger or weaker? Explain.

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