settings 11 Polonius is established here as a meddler; he instructs Reynaldo in using appearance to hide reality. It is unclear in this scene whether Hamlet is pretending, or if he’s actually mad. Polonius decides Hamlet really did love Ophelia after all, but does not apologize to his daughter, showing his lack of interest in his daughter’s feelings.
Polonius 11 The scene serves to develop the character of Polonius, who is one of the most intriguing figures in Hamlet. Polonius can be interpreted as either a fool or as a cunning manipulator, and he has been portrayed onstage as both.Polonius instructs Reynaldo to pretend he’s a friend of Polonius, who only knows Laertes a little. Polonius then begins telling Reynaldo exactly what to say, to the acquaintances of Laertes he finds. This is reminiscent of the scene when Laertes left, where Polonius recited sayings to Laertes, implicitly instructing Laertes in how to express himself.In his advice to Reynaldo, Polonius explicitly develops one of the themes of Hamlet, the idea that words can be used to bend and alter the truth.Polonius once again is willing to use Ophelia in that plot.
Themes 11 Appearance vs. reality: Hamlet hates people putting on an act: ironically, now he’s acting crazy.Slyness/manipulation: Polonius uses Reynaldo to find out about his son. Hamlet uses Ophelia toappear crazy.Surveillance/spying: Polonius is spying on Laertes through Reynaldo.
(Recap) 11 Hamlet wants Ophelia well away from him, not associated with him, to keep her out of danger while he plots to kill Claudius.Polonius is now sure Hamlet loves Ophelia, and he’s going to tell Claudius all about it, and try to bring Hamlet and Ophelia together.Ophelia is devastated that Hamlet’s love for her is destroyed and he hates her now, as she thinks Polonius told her, and she blames her father. She heard Polonius admit it was his fault.
Quotes 11 ”drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling” (26 -P) ”and with a look so piteous in purport” (82 -O)”This is the very ecstasy of love” (102 -P)”But as you did command/I did repel his letters/And denied his access to me” (107/110 -O)
Summary 12 R and G are introduced. They never see through the various plots and are manipulated by everyone. Some critics wonder at whether Gertrude was complicit in Old Hamlet’s murder, but her comment ”what a rash and bloody deed!” indicates she’s unaware that Claudius murdered Old Hamlet. R and G are dupes, acting without any understanding—they’re the opposite of Hamlet, who understands too much. It’s interesting that Hamlet, who is so obsessed with what is real, feels so comfortable with actors, whose job is to make the unreal seem real
4 main parts 12 The scene contains four main parts: Polonius’s conversation with Claudius and Gertrude, which includes the discussion with the ambassadors; Hamlet’s conversation with Polonius, in which we see Hamlet consciously feigning madness for the first time; Hamlet’s reunion with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; and the scene with the players, followed by Hamlet’s concluding soliloquy on the theme of action
Ophelia 11 Her conversation with Polonius informs the audience that she has obeyed her father’s orders and broken off her relationship with Hamlet, confirming her docile nature and dependence on her father to tell her how to behave.
Themes 12 Manipulation/Ulterior motives: Claudius uses R+G, Hamlet uses the actors to try and extract a public confession from Claudius.Appearances/Reality: The actors are simply putting on a fake display but ultimately are re-enacting the murder of Hamlet Sr.

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