Compare Prince Hamlet's friend Horatio and his other friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in "Hamlet."

Compare Prince Hamlet's friend Horatio and his other friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in "Hamlet."

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are old school friends of Hamlet, which indicates that they're not exactly his bosom buddies; they were only really friends of his at school, the kind that most people have during their school days but leave behind soon after graduation. Our initial suspicions are confirmed by their introduction in Act II, Scene ii, when Claudius summons them to court to instruct them to spy on Hamlet. Guildenstern's obsequious response to Claudius's instructions indicates where his and Rosencrantz's loyalties really lie:

But we both obey And here give up ourselves, in the full bent, To lay our service freely at your feet To be commanded.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern most probably think that their spying mission is ultimately for the good of Hamlet; perhaps they're genuinely motivated by a concern for his welfare. But whatever their motivations, they are prepared to use their friendship with Hamlet as a means of gathering evidence, which they must know might well be used against...

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