What is the dramatic significance and what rhetorical devices, especially metaphors are used in Act 2 Scene 2 of "Hamlet"?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We are in the process of teaching "Hamlet" here at eNotes.  Please see the link below for an analysis of Act 2.2. as well as other lessons.   All of the lessons and discussion questions are free.  I encourage you to participate.   Here are excerpts from lesson, ""Titans and Prisons," concerning this scene:

I would point out that in this conversation, Hamlet feels compelled to repeat two phrases, “Words, words, words” and “Except my life, except my life, except my life”  (2.2.210; 2.2.234-35).  It is my feeling that Hamlet is engaging more in an internal battle of the power of reason and (to use Harold Bloom’s phrase) his “Ghost-imposed mission” than worrying too much about outwitting Polonious.  


Rosencratz, still uncomfortable with his role in the betrayal, responds to Hamlet’s overly hearty greeting, “Good, lads, how do you both?” with, “As the indifferent children of the earth”  (2.2.24).  This cryptic remark seems to underscore two things.  First, the allusion to “the children of the earth” would subtly show Rosencratz own university education and his knowledge of Greek mythology.  In the myth of Titan, a race of giants are called “the children of the earth” and these often unruly children were “considered the personification of the forces of nature.

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