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Help: HAMLET. ACT 2, SCENE 1: Help with characterization of Polonius from "Hamlet" and...

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ravenmailk | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM via web

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Help: HAMLET. ACT 2, SCENE 1: Help with characterization of Polonius from "Hamlet" and the foreshadowing motif that the scene displays.

Please help me answer the following question from HAMLET. ACT 2, SCENE 1. For the text reference, please view the following website:

http://www.shakespeare-literature.com/Hamlet/6.html

 

What task does Polonius assign Reynaldo to do? Using specific evidence from the play, explain what this scene tells us about Polonius. What recurrent motifs does this interaction develop? How does the language prompt this development? In other words, what language devices are employed that help us understand the character of Polonius more deeply?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Polonius is telling Reynaldo in this scene to spy on Laertes.  Polonius tells him to ask people in Paris about what Danes are there, how much money each has, where each lives, how each one conducts himself, etc.  Polonius says that this method of asking general questions of no particular Dane will uncover more information about Laertes.  Polonius continues, telling Reynaldo, to ask people if they've heard of Laertes and if he's been known to hire prostitutes, gamble, get in fist fights, and other activities.  Poloinus, despite his high-handed advice to his son in Act, sc. 3, does not trust Laertes.  If he trusted him, Polonius would not send Reynaldo to Paris to enact this elaborate scheme.  This action shows us that Polonius is not a trusting man.  It also shows us that Polonius likes subterfuge.  He enjoys spying on people and getting information about them without their knowledge.  This sneaky quality is important because Polonius engages it in trying to find out what is going on with Hamlet, too.  Never does Polonius suggest directly asking someone what he is up to. 

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