Claudius and Gertrude set Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him.
When Hamlet himself enters, he is confronted first by Polonius and then by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whom he quickly identifies as Claudius’s spies. As they talk, a company of touring actors enters. Hamlet persuades one of them to deliver a speech, and recognizes, to his shame, that he has shown less intensity in avenging his father’s murder than the actor has done in performance. Hamlet hopes that when the players stage The Murder of Gonzago for the court, he can determine whether Claudius is guilty of King Hamlet’s death.