How does Hamlet behave initially with Rosecrantz and Guildenstern, and how does he change when he realizes that the two were sent for by Claudius and Gertrude?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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At first (Act II scene ii) Hamlet is glad to see his old school chums, and starts to bare his soul to them, in the famous speech—“I have of late lost all my mirth…” describing the world as “a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours” but when he ask penetratingly whether they have come out of friendship and they admit they were “sent for” (in other words, were being paid to spy on him), he turns ironic again and keeps his “antic disposition on”.  The beautiful metaphor with the musician’s flute (“though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me”) brings out his disdain for their false friendship, another “betrayal” like his uncle’s.  Of course, on the boat trip, he manufactures a letter condemning them to death.


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