Act II, Scene 2: “A Room in the Castle”
Summary: First the King and Queen try to get some of Hamlet’s old friends to see what’s up with him. Then Polonius comes in and claims that his daughter is the reason Hamlet’s been so upset. Then Hamlet comes around, and he’s rude to Polonius and he confuses his old friends and asks a lot of questions about some performers who are coming. Then the performers come and Hamlet makes them recite speeches. Then everyone leaves but Hamlet, who gives a big speech about his plan to make the performers do a play that is just like his father’s murder, and he’s going to add something to it–he wants to see the King’s reaction.
Reaction: This was very long, and it had a lot of speeches. I’m glad Hamlet seems to think Polonius is a moron too.
Prediction: The play should be interesting. I doubt it will go as Hamlet planned. I don’t see the king showing much emotion from it, but he could be haunted and afraid. That would make it more dramatic.
Why This Book Is a Classic: Speeches. Lots and lots of long speeches.
Why a Modern Audience Might Like It: Even the characters got tired of each others’ long speeches. During every one, except Hamlet’s when he was his own audience, someone else always complained–like the queen complaining to Polonius “more matter, with less art.”