Is it true or false that Hamlet is afraid to trust Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Hamlet is suspicious of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as he is mistrustful of their motives for being in the court and very wary of responding to their inquiries about his mental state.

In Act Two, scene two, as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter, Hamlet greets them with exuberance: "My excellent good friends!"  However, he bandies with them as he asks them how the world goes and why they have come to the "prison" of Denmark. To his questions, they reply in duplicitous and obsequious ways, so Hamlet bandies with them,

Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good of bad, but thinking makes it so (239-240).

When they declare that they have come out of friendship to visit him, Hamliet inquires,

Were you not sent for?  Is it your own inclining?  Is it a free visitation?  Come, come, deal justly with me.  Come, come, nay speak (ll 262-264). 

When they reply "What should we say, my lord?" Hamlet tells them,

...You were sent for, and there is/ a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not/ craft enough to color (264-266).

After a verbal game of "cat and mouse," Hamlet ends by telling his former friends--knowing they have been sent to learn if he is mad--that the king and queen are deceived in their belief that he is utterly mad:

Let me comply with you...I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly/ I know a hawk from a handsaw [hawk=pickaxe  Also, a play on hawk as a bird of prey] (349-350).

 Hamlet is much too perspicacious to be duped by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.