hamlet study guide act 2

“And there put on himWhat forgeries you please. Marry, none so rankAs may dishonor him.” Polonius asks his servant, Reynaldo to go and spy on Laertes in France. Reynaldo can make up any rumor about him, as long as he does not ruin his reputation entirely. For example, if Reynaldo goes “Laertes is such a drunk!” and people agree, then it is confirmed that he has a drinking problem.
“You, laying these slight sullies on my sonAs ’twere a thing a little soiled i’ th’ working-Mark you, your party in converse, him you would sound,Having ever seen in the prenominate crimesThe youth you breathe of guilty, be assured” Polonius asks his servant, Reynaldo to go and spy on Laertes in France. Reynaldo can make up any rumor about him, as long as he does not ruin his reputation entirely. For example, if Reynaldo goes “Laertes is such a drunk!” and people agree, then it is confirmed that he has a drinking problem.
“See you now,Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth.” Polonius asks his servant, Reynaldo to go and spy on Laertes in France. Reynaldo can make up any rumor about him, as long as he does not ruin his reputation entirely. For example, if Reynaldo goes “Laertes is such a drunk!” and people agree, then it is confirmed that he has a drinking problem.
“Mad for thy love?” After Ophelia describes Hamlet’s strange outburst, Polonius asks her if he is just crazy because he loves her so much and now is forbidden to see her. This is significant because it is false; the source of his madness is from a very different perpetrator.
“This is the very ecstasy of love,Whose violent property fordoes itselfAnd leads the will to desperate undertakingsAs oft as any passion under heavenThat does afflict our natures.” Still believing that Hamlet is solely mad for thy love, Polonius goes on to describe how strong love sickness can be.
“By heaven, it is as proper to our ageTo cast beyond ourselves in our opinionsAs it is common for the younger sortTo lack discretion.” Polonius tells Ophelia that he judged the love between her and Hamlet too quickly. He claims it is common for older people to look down upon the lack of discretion of the younger lovers.
“Something have you heardOf Hamlet’s ‘transformation’ – so call itSince nor th’ exterior nor the inward manResembles that it was.” Claudius questions Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on what they found out about Hamlet’s behavior. Claudius inquires to see how Hamlet’s depressed exterior matches his insides. He sends them on a mission to find out the answer.
“I entreat you bothThat, being of so young days brought up with himAnd since so neighbored to his youth and ‘havior,That you vouchsafe your rest here in our courtSome little time so by your companiesTo draw him on to pleasures and to gather,So much as from occasion you may glean,Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thusThat, opened, lies within our remedy.” Claudius orders Rosencrantz & Guildenstern to try and figure out why Hamlet is acting so strange. Claudius thought that they were good options for spies since they have known Hamlet for so long and Hamlet will open up ti them. He is very wrong.
“For the supply and profit of our hope,Your visitation shall receive such thanksAs fits a king’s remembrance.” Gertrude offers R&G money if they can find out what is wrong with Hamlet. This quote signifies that R&G are unloyal and value money over childhood friendships.
“And I do think-or else this brain of mineHunts not the trail of policy so sureAs it hath used to do – that I have foundThe very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.” Polonius approaches the King and Queen with his theory of why Hamlet is crazy. Polonius explains that he is mad for his love for Ophelia. The King is appeased by this theory.
“I doubt it’s no other but the main:His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.” Gertrude says this to Claudius indicating another theory for Hamlet’s craziness. This quote is significant because it shows that Gertrude is aware of what she had done and how it effected Hamlet.
“I will be brief; your noble son is mad.Mad call I it, for to define true madness,What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?” Polonius says this to the King and Queen when describing Hamlet. Initially, the quote is ironic because nothing that Polonius says is brief. Even in this very quote, he continues on to reiterate the word mad three times. Nonetheless, this quote is significant because it is painstakingly obvious that Hamlet is crazy to everyone.
“More matter, with less art.” Gertrude says this to Polonius indicating that Polonius needs to get to the point in his arguments. She is basically telling him to be short and sweet and to the point.
“‘Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.This must not be.'” While trying to kiss up to the King and Queen, Polonius says this to them. He claims that Ophelia is not seeing Hamlet because he out of her league; in reality, he forced them to break up because he was looking bad.
“Hath there been such a time – I would fain know that -That I have positively said, ”Tis so,’When it proved otherwise?” Polonius basically argues to the King and Queen that there has never been a time when he swore he was correct about something and proved to be wrong. This is ironic because he is completely wrong and ends up dying because of it.
“You are a fishmonger.” Hamlet pretends he does not know who Polonius is and calls Polonius a pimp; thus, referring to Ophelia as a prostitute. Polonius does not understand that Hamlet is mocking him. Hamlet goes on to say that even if Polonius is not a fishmonger, he wishes he were as good as one.
“Conception is a blessing, but, asyour daughter may conceive-Friend, look to ‘t.” Hamlet taunts Polonius claiming that Ophelia may be pregnant.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” Polonius says this aside claiming that there is a “method to Hamlet’s madness”. This quote is a response to Hamlet pretending to talk about what he is reading, but in reality in making snide comments towards Polonius. Slowly but surely, Polonius is catching onto he comments and sees what Hamlet is doing.
“Then is doomsday near. But your news is not true.” When Hamlet asks what the news is, R&G respond that the world is honest. Hamlet says this quote in response to such claiming that the world must be ending b/c nobody is honest.
“Denmark’s a prison.” Hamlet makes this comment to R&G. R&G say that the whole world is a prison, but Hamlet claims Denmark is the worst. This quote signifies the theme of escaping problems. Like a prisoner wants to escape prison, Hamlet wants to escape his current situation, death, and ultimately, fate.
“You were sent for, andthere is a kind of confession in your looks which yourmodesties have not craft enough to color.” After asking the pair why they are here several times, Hamlet says this to R&G to inform them that he knows why. They are not cunning enough to pull this charade off.
“Nay, then, I have an eye of you-“ Hamlet says this aside after R&G aren’t sure that they want to confess. Hamlet is basically saying that I’m watching you.
“I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost allmy mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed itgoes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame,the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory.” Hamlet admits to R&G that he feels insanely depressed, but does not reveal why.
“How chances it they travel? Their residence, both inreputation and profit, was better both ways.” In addition to being a way for Shakespeare to comment on acting troops that were beginning to travel even though they were successful in a stationary theatre, Hamlet says this to R&G about the acting troops.
“I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerlyI know a hawk from a handsaw.” Hamlet tells R&G that he is only crazy sometimes.
“The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral,scene individable, or poem unlimited.” Polonius is telling Hamlet about the acting troops in town. This is a significant quote because it is Shakespeare poking fun at the way contemporaries classify drama.
“This is too long.” Polonius says this aloud, with Hamlet present, about one of the actor’s long monologue. It is ironic b/c Polonius talks to much.
“Prithee, say on.He’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps.” After Polonius makes a comment about the soliloquy, Hamlet responds with this quote claiming that Polonius will only stay interested if there is dancing or sex.
“Use every man after hisdesert, and who should ‘scape whipping?” After Polonius says that he will give the actors what they deserve, Hamlet says you should give them better than what they deserve.
“The less they deserve, themore merit is in your bounty.” After Polonius says that he will give the actors what they deserve, Hamlet says you should give them better than what they deserve. The more excess care that they receive, the more generosity credited.
“Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!Is it not monstrous that this player here,But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,Could force his soul so to his own conceitThat from her working all his visage wanned,Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,A broken voice, and his whole function suitingWith forms to his conceit?” When observing actors pretend to be sad, Hamlet laments the notion that he really is this sad.
“What would he doHad he the motive and the cue for passionThat I have?” Hamlet ponders if that actor had the emotional distress that Hamlet has what would happen.
“Yet I,A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peakLike John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,And can say nothing – no, not for a king,Upon whose property and most dear lifeA damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?” In a soliloquy, Hamlet ponders if he is a coward b/c he has not taken any action to avenge his father’s murder yet.
“But I am pigeon-livered and lack gallTo make oppression bitter, or ere thisI should have fatter all the region kitesWith this slave’s offal.” In a soliloquy, Hamlet ponders if he is a coward b/c he has not taken any action to avenge his father’s murder yet. Hamlet affirms that he is coward; if he was not, Claudius would have been dead a long time ago.
“Hum, I have heardThat guilty creatures sitting at a playHave, by the very cunning of the scene,Been struck so to the soul that presentlyThey have proclaimed their malefactions.” In a soliloquy, Hamlet thinks that when guilty people are in a play, they are so overwhelmed they are driven to confess on the spot.
“For murder, though it have no tongue, will speakWith most miraculous organ.” In a soliloquy, Hamlet believes that murder cannot speak, but through this play, and the organ, the truth about the murder will come out.

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