What does Polonius assign Reynaldo to do in Hamlet, Act II, Scene i?

Expert Answers info

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write2,689 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The character of Polonius, in Shakespeare's Hamlet, proves himself to be a questionable parent at best when he asks "his man" Reynaldo to search out Laertes in France in order to examine Laertes' behavior.  In other words, Polonius wants Reynaldo to be a devious spy.  Laertes, of course, is Polonius' own son.  Polonius has given Laertes quite a bit of (rambling) advice before Laertes goes to France to complete his studies.  Obviously, Polonius doesn't trust his own offspring.  Considering the expense of sending Reynaldo to France and verbally inquire about Laertes' whereabouts and doings,...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 894 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mitchrich4199 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write171 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

nickj | Student

Polonius proves himself to be an untrusting parent by choosing to send Reynaldo to spy on Laertes even after speaking directly with his son already. After providing his son with a lengthy list of 'life rules' to follow while he is away at University.

These rules include:

"Give thy thoughts no tongue" - keep your thoughts to yourself
"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel." - maintain the bonds of friendship

Polonius also goes on and on to Reynaldo with directions on how best to spy on his own son. Reynaldo's assignment to spy is far from noble, but it is as if Polonius can't help him self.