Hamlet’s Character Up to Act Two and Examination of Soliloquy

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Notes on Acts 2 and 3, Hamlet & the Assignment

Hamlet’s Character Up to Act Two and Examination of Soliloquy

Act II opens with Polonius sending Reynaldo off to Paris to spy on his son Laertes—he tells him to plant a few small lies about Laertes, and see if anyone contradicts him. Ophelia comes to her father Polonius, concerned about Hamlet’s recent behavior, and Polonius is sure he knows the reason for the strange behavior. News is coming in from the outside world: young Fortinbras’s uncle has diverted him to Poland instead of Denmark, but hopes he may pass through Denmark on his way to Poland…Hamlet devises as scheme to have some traveling players reenact the death of his father, in hopes that he will see his uncle looking guilty as they all watch the play: “ the play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” (III. 1. 556-557). In Act III we have the famous “To be, or not to be” speech of Hamlet; Hamlet’s encounter with Ophelia while Polonius and the King spy on them; the players play their scene and Hamlet watches his uncle and mother Gertrude; Hamlet confronts his mother & Polonius is a casualty…

For the Short Assignment, please discuss and describe the character of Hamlet up to the end of Act II…examine the soliloquies (a soliloquy is spoken when a character is alone on stage), examine his interactions with the other characters. Does he seem reasonable, thoughtful, justified in his behavior at this point? Support your answer with short quotes and examples from the play. Give Act, scene, and line numbers when referencing the play.



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