In Hamlet, what trick is Reynaldo supposed to use to get information about Laertes?

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blacksheepunite's profile pic

blacksheepunite | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Polonius tells him (lines 20-35 in my Arden) to slander Laertes to people who know him so that the truth will come out. He says that if Laertes is actually good, people who know him will protest and say that Reynaldo is not speaking the truth, but if the lies Reynaldo spreads have some truth in them, then the people he is talking to will open up more and tell more juicy tidbits. So by slander he will get more information than just by asking around.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

It isn't so much of a trick as just passive-aggressive information gathering.  At Polonious' behest, Reynaldo (who has just thirteen lines in the entire play, by the way) is sent off to Paris to find out if Laeretes is behaving properly, or at least in the way his father has deemed acceptable.  Polonius instructs Reynaldo to inquire about his activites from other Danes ("Danskers") in the city who can provide this information. 

You can view the entire text of Hamlet by following the link below.  The eText provides side-by-side text of the original play and its modern translation. 


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