Let’s play A2S1 of Hamlet where Polonius first asks Reynaldo to spy on his son, Laertes, in Paris, and bad-mouth him to other Danes living in Paris, and then rushes Ophelia off to the king, when she comes in, very upset, about how Hamlet has treated her.
The first part with Reynaldo serves no plot function that I can see, except that it tells us a lot about Polonius. He seems quite happy to use spymaster’s techniques to find out how his son behaves in Paris, regardless of the impact on Laertes reputation in Paris, and even Reynaldo expresses some doubts about what he is being asked to do.
With our thoughts coloured by his treatment of Laertes, perhaps Polonius’ treatment of Ophelia seems to put the king and queen’s interests before his upset daughter’s.
Is Polonius the kindly old fool he’s usually portrayed as. I think we should be told. And if he’s not, why does he treat Laertes and Ophelia so?
To play the scene, each player should click on one of the following three characters to get the script with their lines highlit:
- Ophelia (She doesn’t have much to say at the beginning of the scene, but does later on).
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- Preparing Malvolio for Performance using MFFEV5 CloudReader and Parts and Cues
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