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Hamlet
Act 2, scene 1

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Events before the start of Hamlet set the stage for tragedy. When the king of Denmark, Prince Hamlet’s father, suddenly dies, Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 1

On the guards’ platform at Elsinore, Horatio waits with Barnardo and Marcellus to question a ghost that has twice before…

Act 1, scene 2

In an audience chamber in Elsinore, Claudius, the new king of Denmark, holds court. After thanking his courtiers for their…

Act 1, scene 3

In Polonius’s chambers, Laertes says good-bye to his sister, Ophelia, and tells her not to trust Hamlet’s promises of love….

Act 1, scene 4

While Claudius drinks away the night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are visited by the Ghost. It signals to Hamlet. Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 5

The Ghost tells Hamlet a tale of horror. Saying that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, he demands that…

Act 2, scene 1

Polonius sends his servant Reynaldo to Paris to question Laertes’s acquaintances. Ophelia enters, deeply disturbed about a visit she has…

Act 2, scene 2

Claudius and Gertrude set Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him. When Hamlet himself enters,…

Act 3, scene 1

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and…

Act 3, scene 2

Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the…

Act 3, scene 3

Claudius orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. Polonius tells Claudius of his plans to spy on Hamlet’s…

Act 3, scene 4

In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius…

Act 4, scene 1

Gertrude reports Polonius’s death to Claudius, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and recover the body.

Act 4, scene 2

Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where he has put Polonius’s body.

Act 4, scene 3

Hamlet is brought to Claudius, who tells him that he is to leave immediately for England. Alone, Claudius reveals that…

Act 4, scene 4

Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Fortinbras’s vigorous activity a model…

Act 4, scene 5

Reports reach Gertrude that Ophelia is mad. Ophelia enters singing about death and betrayal. After Ophelia has gone, Claudius agonizes…

Act 4, scene 6

Horatio is given a letter from Hamlet telling of the prince’s boarding of a pirate ship and his subsequent return…

Act 4, scene 7

Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet announcing the prince’s return. Claudius enlists Laertes’s willing help in devising another plot against…

Act 5, scene 1

Hamlet, returned from his journey, comes upon a gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet tries to find out who the…

Act 5, scene 2

In the hall of the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king’s plot against him and how he…

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Scene 1
Enter old Polonius with his man Reynaldo.

POLONIUS 
 Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
REYNALDO I will, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 You shall do marvelous wisely, good Reynaldo,
 Before you visit him, to make inquire
5 Of his behavior.
REYNALDO  My lord, I did intend it.
POLONIUS 
 Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
 Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;
 And how, and who, what means, and where they
10 keep,
 What company, at what expense; and finding
 By this encompassment and drift of question
 That they do know my son, come you more nearer
 Than your particular demands will touch it.
15 Take you, as ’twere, some distant knowledge of him,
 As thus: “I know his father and his friends
 And, in part, him.” Do you mark this, Reynaldo?
REYNALDO Ay, very well, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 “And, in part, him, but,” you may say, “not well.
73

75
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

20 But if ’t be he I mean, he’s very wild,
 Addicted so and so.” And there put on him
 What forgeries you please—marry, none so rank
 As may dishonor him, take heed of that,
 But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
25 As are companions noted and most known
 To youth and liberty.
REYNALDO  As gaming, my lord.
POLONIUS Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing,
 Quarreling, drabbing—you may go so far.
REYNALDO 30My lord, that would dishonor him.
POLONIUS 
 Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
 You must not put another scandal on him
 That he is open to incontinency;
 That’s not my meaning. But breathe his faults so
35 quaintly
 That they may seem the taints of liberty,
 The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
 A savageness in unreclaimèd blood,
 Of general assault.
REYNALDO 40But, my good lord—
POLONIUS Wherefore should you do this?
REYNALDO Ay, my lord, I would know that.
POLONIUS Marry, sir, here’s my drift,
 And I believe it is a fetch of wit.
45 You, laying these slight sullies on my son,
 As ’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 crimes
50 The youth you breathe of guilty, be assured
 He closes with you in this consequence:
 “Good sir,” or so, or “friend,” or “gentleman,”
 According to the phrase or the addition
 Of man and country—

77
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

REYNALDO 55 Very good, my lord.
POLONIUS And then, sir, does he this, he does—what
 was I about to say? By the Mass, I was about to say
 something. Where did I leave?
REYNALDO At “closes in the consequence,” at “friend,
60 or so,” and “gentleman.”
POLONIUS 
 At “closes in the consequence”—ay, marry—
 He closes thus: “I know the gentleman.
 I saw him yesterday,” or “th’ other day”
 (Or then, or then, with such or such), “and as you
65 say,
 There was he gaming, there o’ertook in ’s rouse,
 There falling out at tennis”; or perchance
 “I saw him enter such a house of sale”—
 Videlicet, a brothel—or so forth. See you now
70 Your bait of falsehood take this carp of truth;
 And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
 With windlasses and with assays of bias,
 By indirections find directions out.
 So by my former lecture and advice
75 Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?
REYNALDO 
 My lord, I have.
POLONIUS  God be wi’ you. Fare you well.
REYNALDO Good my lord.
POLONIUS 
 Observe his inclination in yourself.
REYNALDO 80I shall, my lord.
POLONIUS And let him ply his music.
REYNALDO Well, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 Farewell.Reynaldo exits.

Enter Ophelia.

 How now, Ophelia, what’s the matter?

79
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

OPHELIA 
85 O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!
POLONIUS With what, i’ th’ name of God?
OPHELIA 
 My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
 Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,
 No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled,
90 Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle,
 Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
 And with a look so piteous in purport
 As if he had been loosèd out of hell
 To speak of horrors—he comes before me.
POLONIUS 
95 Mad for thy love?
OPHELIA  My lord, I do not know,
 But truly I do fear it.
POLONIUS  What said he?
OPHELIA 
 He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
100 Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
 And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow,
 He falls to such perusal of my face
 As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.
 At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
105 And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
 He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
 As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
 And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
 And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
110 He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
 For out o’ doors he went without their helps
 And to the last bended their light on me.
POLONIUS 
 Come, go with me. I will go seek the King.
 This is the very ecstasy of love,
115 Whose violent property fordoes itself

81
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 And leads the will to desperate undertakings
 As oft as any passions under heaven
 That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.
 What, have you given him any hard words of late?
OPHELIA 
120 No, my good lord, but as you did command
 I did repel his letters and denied
 His access to me.
POLONIUS  That hath made him mad.
 I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
125 I had not coted him. I feared he did but trifle
 And meant to wrack thee. But beshrew my jealousy!
 By heaven, it is as proper to our age
 To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
 As it is common for the younger sort
130 To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
 This must be known, which, being kept close, might
 move
 More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
 Come.
They exit.