1. How much time has passed between Act 1 and Act 2? How do you know? (Keep watching for evidence.)
2. What is Polonius telling Reynaldo to do? What does this tell up about Polonius and his way of thinking and acting? Polonius is directing Reynaldo to question Laertes' friends to find out what Laertes is up to in France. Reynaldo must accuse Laertes of false offenses, not any too consequential, in order to find out the truth of his behavior. Reynaldo and Polonius seemed used to the idea of following others around and being clever and well thought in their methods, so it would seem that Polonius is one of suspicion and mistrustful of even his own son.
3. Why is Ophelia so upset when she enters at 188.8.131.52? What has happened to her? Does Hamlet's appearance (in her telling) as a madman (a distracted lover) come as a surprise after what we last heard him say? Why would he appear in this sort of madness to her? Is there any possibility he really is a distracted lover responding to Ophelia's apparent rejection of him? How well has she obeyed her father's orders in 1.3? When Ophelia enters the scene she cries that she has been frightened by Hamlet's strange behavior. While she was sowing in her room Hamlet barged in with dirty and messed up clothes, looking pitiful and insane. He then went up to Ophelia and held her wrist while stroking the side of her face, nodding three times and sighing "profoundly", then subsequently leaving her. It was surprising to involve Ophelia so directly in Hamlet's play at insanity, as I figured he would act around Claudius and Polonius instead. But by acting as a distraught lover, the source of his insanity is clearer and easily acceptable by Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius than the "murder" of King Hamlet. It is difficult to tell if Hamlet truly is upset at being rejected, as they have not been in a scene together and as Hamlet seems to condemn women from his experiences from his mother. Ophelia has strictly obeyed her father, since she fears that Hamlet's actions were due to her denying him according to Polonius' orders.
4. What is Polonius' response to what Ophelia tells him? Where are they going? When Ophelia tells Polonius of Hamlet's strange behavior Polonius responds by telling Ophelia that he will tell the King Claudius of their suspicions. Polonius then displays a guilty response, by saying that he had gone too far in forcing Ophelia to so abruptly deny Hamlet, and felt sorry for how his suspicions had played out.
1. Why have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to court? What is their relation to Hamlet? What use does Claudius have for them? Does this remind you of Polonius' use for Reynaldo? Are there any significant differences? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are both too childhood friends of Hamlet and have been sent by Claudius and Gertrude to come to Elsinore and spy on Hamlet to find out the source of his madness and his hidden behaviors. Claudius has the advantage of his belief that Hamlet strong trust for his childhood friends. This reminds me of Polonius' use for Reynaldo in the secret methods of getting information about their sons but Claudius seems already aware of what Hamlet is doing and acting and has a solid hypothesis of the source of such behavior. On the other hand, Polonius was unsure of Laertes' behavior and would lie to find the truth.
2. We've now had several different explanations of Hamlet's madness: love (2.1.86, 103), his father's death (2.2.8), and that plus "our o'erhasty marriage" (2.2.57note Gertrude's awareness of impropriety). Are people content with these explanations? Are you? Gertrude seems content with knowing that Hamlet is mad because of her hasty marriage to his uncle and the death of King Hamlet, and would seem that Claudius is less convinced. Claudius doesn't tell Gertrude of the news Polonius just gave him of Hamlet being mad for love, nor does Gertrude even inquire what Claudius has found. Gertrude seems less...