Show how spying is important in the play Hamlet.

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In Hamletthere is, indeed, a huge amount of spying going on. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are tasked with spying on Hamlet for Claudius and Gertrude. Polonius has Reynaldo check on Laertes. Claudius and Polonius set up the encounter between Hamlet and Ophelia in order to spy on them....

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In Hamlet there is, indeed, a huge amount of spying going on. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are tasked with spying on Hamlet for Claudius and Gertrude. Polonius has Reynaldo check on Laertes. Claudius and Polonius set up the encounter between Hamlet and Ophelia in order to spy on them. Polonius spies on Hamlet (with fatal results for himself) when Hamlet is with his mother. The Ghost can be said to spy on Hamlet, intervening and telling him to leave his mother alone. In the previous scene, Hamlet spies on Claudius as Claudius is praying, with the intent to kill him. As Ophelia’s funeral is taking place, Hamlet and Horatio are, in effect, spying on the mourners before Hamlet steps forward and challenges Laertes.

The significance of this pattern is that, basically, nobody trusts anyone else at court. They are all at each others’s throats with secrets of their own and hidden agendas, guilt, and repressed anger. Claudius, with murder on his hands, is the worst. He knows Hamlet is on to him and therefore must have him watched. Polonius, though usually portrayed as a doddering old man, is also a kind of guilty father. He knows his children are both troubled for different reasons, and he also fears (justifiably so) that his daughter has become Hamlet’s mistress. Hamlet’s plotting is carried out in secret and he must surreptitiously judge the reaction of Claudius and others to his schemes for revenge.

The play as a whole is a nightmare of family misery and blood-soaked retribution. “Spying” in itself may be one of the milder things taking place, but nonetheless part of the harshly realistic power struggle within the royal family of medieval Denmark.

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Deception and spying are two significant themes that Shakespeare explores throughout his classic play Hamlet. The current political climate in Denmark following King Hamlet's death is threatening and dangerous. In this hostile environment, certain characters must spy on others to ensure their safety, avoid conflict, and carefully plan their next move. Polonius is notorious for spying and is directly involved in several incidents of espionage. He sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes in France towards the beginning of the play. Polonius also spies on Ophelia with Claudius when she interacts with Hamlet and hides behind an arras to spy on Hamlet and Gertrude. Polonius is motivated to spy on Hamlet in an attempt to discover the root of his madness.

Claudius spies alongside Polonius as they watch Hamlet dismiss Ophelia, and he also summons Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on his nephew. Claudius is motivated to spy on Hamlet to ensure his safety and prevent Hamlet from seeking revenge. Hamlet and Horatio both spy on Claudius during the play to discern whether or not the Ghost was telling the truth about his involvement in King Hamlet's death. Hamlet and Horatio also spy on Ophelia's funeral procession while they are in the graveyard. Overall, the theme of spying coincides with the prominent elements of deception and lying, which underscore the play and emphasize the hostile environment in Denmark during Claudius's reign.

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Spying is a recurring event in the play that brings about the death of Polonius as well as the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In Act 2, sc. 1, Polonius even has his son spied upon when he tells Reynaldo spy on his son, Laertes.  Later, in Act 3, sc. 1, both Polonius and Claudius spy on Hamlet during his "To be or not to be..." speech.   Act 3, sc. 4, Polonius again decides to spy on Hamlet in Gertrude's room.  He wants to find out why Hamlet has been acting they he's been acting and he hides behind the arras.  Hamlet, in his anger with his mother over Claudius' actions and her possible involvement, realizes someone is behind the tapestry and stabs it, killing Polonius.  When Hamlet is sent to England, he manages to get the letter that Claudius has sent with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and by employing his spy techniques (opening the letter, rewriting it, resealing it), he changes the order in it to save himself and have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern put to death.

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