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Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Act 2, Scene 2 Notes.

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1 Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Act 2, Scene 2 Notes

2 1. How does this scene prepare the reader for future scenes?
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, now the King and Queen’s spies, are instructed to find the cause of Hamlet’s misery. Claudius and Polonius will spy on a meeting between Ophelia and Hamlet to see if Hamlet is lovesick or insane.

3 2. Compare and contrast Hamlet and Fortinbras
2. Compare and contrast Hamlet and Fortinbras. Why has Fortinbras changed his plan to attack Denmark? It has been negotiated that the King of Norway, Fortinbras’ uncle, will intercede and have Fortinbras attack Poland instead of Denmark. Fortinbras is like Hamlet because he has committed to avenging his father’s death. Fortinbras, however, takes rational action by gathering public support. Hamlet has adopted irrational behavior and looked for no public support.

4 3. Why does Claudius hire Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as spies?
He is threatened by Hamlet’s lunacy. He feels Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can find out what Hamlet is thinking because Claudius believes they are Hamlet’s friends. In addition, they will report back to Claudius because they are loyal subjects of the King.

5 4. How does Hamlet feel about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Why?
He behaves normally and is friendly at first, but discovers the two are the King’s spies. He then returns to his depression because, just as brother has killed brother, his friends have betrayed him. It appears that deception and disloyalty know no bounds.

6 5. What is the story of Hecuba and Priam
5. What is the story of Hecuba and Priam? Explain the story’s significance. What is Hamlet’s reaction to the story? Explain. Hecuba is grieving over her murdered husband Priam. Hamlet is angry with himself because he has taken no action against Claudius. Actors who have no connection to the story can shed tears, but he is able to do nothing. What is an actor, who shares no reality with the part he plays, in comparison to Hamlet’s losses?

7 6. Explain Hamlet’s state of mind as revealed by his soliloquy
6. Explain Hamlet’s state of mind as revealed by his soliloquy. What do Hamlet’s remarks to Polonius tell about Hamlet’s thoughts? In his dialogue with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet reveals a change he has undergone. What is it? He is deliberately mad and can switch his pose as it suits him. Hamlet is a disillusioned idealist. Although he had believed the Renaissance idea that man is capable of noble reason and sublime thought, Hamlet realizes man is also capable of animal-like behavior and evil.

8 7. What idea does Hamlet get from having the players in the court?
He will have the players perform “The Murder of Gonzago” for Claudius and the court. If Claudius is guilty of the murder and the ghost is truthful, Claudius will act uncomfortable during the play and Hamlet will observe this. This will give him the proof he needs to take his revenge.

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