Hamlet: Novel Summary: Act 2, Scene 2

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Claudius has summoned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet.  He and Queen Gertrude feel that they can discover the cause of the Prince's apparent madness and send them to spy on him.  They leave and Polonius enters.  He reports that the ambassadors, sent to Norway, have returned and that he has discovered the cause of Hamlet's madness.  He leaves to retrieve the ambassadors and Gertrude expresses doubt that the madness is caused by anything other than King Hamlet's death and the hasty marriage that followed.  Polonius returns with Cornelius and Voltemand who report that they have been successful in stopping the attack of Fortinbras.  The ambassadors leave.  Polonius informs the King and Queen that Hamlet's madness is for the love of his daughter Ophelia, offering as evidence a poem written by the Prince.  He bets his life and office on this.  Polonius suggests that they send Ophelia to talk to Hamlet while they spy on him.  The King agrees and Hamlet enters reading a book.  Polonius asks to be left alone with the Prince and the King and Queen exit.  Polonius attempts to talk with Hamlet and comes to believe there to be some sort of method to his madness but cannot discover it.  He decides to leave and send in Ophelia.  Guildenstern and Rosencrantz enter as he leaves.  Hamlet instantly recognizes that they were sent by Claudius and tells them.  They admit it and Hamlet tells them of his depressed behavior.  They tell him that an acting troupe is on its way to entertain him.  He tells his friends that he is not entirely mad.only in certain situations.  Polonius enters announcing the arrival of the players.  Hamlet compares him to Jephthah, a biblical character who unintentionally sacrifices his daughter (Judges 11: 29-40).  The players enter and Hamlet persuades them to perform a speech.  He then arranges to write a speech to insert in the play they will perform the next night.  Afterward, he is filled with shame that the actor had shown more passion in his performance than he had shown thus far in avenging his father.  He hopes that the speech writes will inspire a guilty reaction from his uncle so he may see proof of the crime. 

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