Today, we will look at Act II Scene ii, the longest scene in the play. It is so long, in fact, that we will skip a few lines:
- We will omit references to the treaty with Poland (my apologies to those of Polish descent in the class). We will return to this subplot later in the play
- We will skip over a few lengthy exchanges between Hamlet and some actors who are visiting Elsinore.
The remaining lines, however, will be brilliantly acted out by you. Here is the gist:
- Claudius and Gertrude will ask two young men, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to check on Hamlet. He has been acting strangely, after all. Watch how neither the royal couple nor the prince can keep the young men`s names straight.
- Polonius will try to convince Claudius and Gertrude that Hamlet`s odd behaviour is due to his love for Ophelia.
- Polonius will talk to Hamlet, only to be further convinced of the Prince`s insanity. The question, of course, is this: is Hamlet really insane?
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find Hamlet as the King requested. Notice the difference between Hamlet’s reaction to them and his treatment of Horatio in Act I.
- Hamlet decides to have the visiting actors perform a scene of his creation so that he may “catch the conscious of the king.”