Hamlet Literary Significance

3628 Words15 Pages
spirit sent to lure his soul to damnation. He declares his intention to stage a play exactly based on the murder of his father. While it is played he will observe Claudius. If the king is guilty, Hamlet figures, surely he will show this guilt when faced with the scene of the crime. Analysis This Act begins by establishing the atmosphere of political intrigue at Elsinore. Polonius plots to spy on Laertes by means of Reynaldo; Claudius and Gertrude plot to spy on Hamlet by means of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; Norway foils Fortinbras’ plot to invade Denmark, only to assist him in a venture against Poland. It seems that everyone in Elsinore is plotting against everyone else. Significantly, though, these intrigues are represented as very clumsy, if not stupid. Polonius’ instructions to Reynaldo are so comically complex and so circuitously related that he himself loses track of them at one point. And his attempt to relate his great discovery of Hamlet’s broken heart to Claudius and Gertrude in the second scene does not go any better. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” he says (another instance of Polonius getting one of Shakespeare’s most famous and most often decontextualized lines); and he then proceeds to be anything but brief, anything but witty. Rather, he is dull, pedantic, self-important, pompous, flowery – and, more to the point, dead wrong. As in Act One, Polonius obviously fancies himself a great political mind. We might beg to differ. Claudius, too, shows remarkable political stupidity in trusting to the espionage of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two rather clownish fellows whom Hamlet sees through instantly. Moreover, the Norway episode reveals Claudius’ blunt instincts quite clearly; he appears ready to agree to allow Fortinbras, whom only days before had planned to take over his realm, to march through Denmark on his way to conquer Poland. This is sort of

More about Hamlet Literary Significance

Open Document