Act II, Scene-II Detailed Summary of Hamlet: "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare



Elsinore, a room in the palace. The king with his queen Gertrude is busy in state affairs. Here comes Polonius telling the king that Hamlet has lost his senses and is gone mad for the love of his daughter Ophelia. He reads a letter of Hamlet sent to his daughter :

"'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love."

He explains that after hearing that Hamlet was interested in his daughter he advised her not pay attention to Hamlet. She obeyed and Hamlet lost "Into the madness wherein now he raves". Polonius proposes to let his daughter encounter Hamlet and they may hide and see the response of Hamlet. Suddenly, there comes Hamlet. Polonius asks the king and the queen to hide and let Polonius talk to Hamlet. He speaks to him and discusses and questions him. Hamlet refuses to recognise him. After a lot of vague sentences from Hamlet, Polonius is certain that Hamlet is gone mad but he also realises: "Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.". However, Polonius leaves the scene and enters Rosencrantz. There is discussion between the two. Hamlet considers life painful while the former does not agree. Hamlet says:

"for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

Then Hamlet says that he knows Rosencrantz has been sent by the king and the queen to teach and guide Hamlet under the disguise of friendship. Both of them mildly admit of having been deputed by the king and the queen. There is a long discussion which reveals the gloomy bent of mind Hamlet is in. Later, the Risencrantz tells Hamlet of the arrival of theatre artists and actors. Hamlet welcomes them warmly to Elsinore. Hamlet gives a passing statement to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern his mother and the king are deceived because:

"I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw."

Enters Polonius telling Hamlet of the arrival of the actors while Hamlet speaks deep and calls him:

"O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou! "

Polonius is unaware of what Hamlet means. He introduces the actors to Hamlet. He speaks to them with clear wisdom and understanding. Hamlet wants them to perform a speech before him from one the plays Hamlet has seen. The players perform and Hamlet is much pleased of their performance. He announces the players shall perform the "Muther of Gonzano" the next day. Hamlet asks them to meet him in the night with the play and he would insert some lines in the play which they need to perform. All exit except Hamlet. Hamlet in a soliloquy:

"I'll have these Players Play something like the murther of my father Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks" Hamlet reveals his inner thinking that he is confused about the role of ghost:

"The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil; and the devil hath power
T' assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
More relative than this. The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King"





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