What do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to Claudius regarding their conversation with Hamlet?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 3, Scene 1, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report back to King Claudius after their conversation with Hamlet in Act 2, Scene 2. They have very little to tell the King, who opens the scene by asking,

"And can you, by no drift of conference,

Get from him why he puts on this confusion,

Grating so harshly all his days of quiet

With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?"

Rosencrantz says,

"He does confess he feels himself distracted,

But from what cause he will by no means speak."

And Guildenstern adds,

"Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,

But with a crafty madness keeps aloof

When we would bring him on to some confession

Of his true state."

The only good news they have for the King is that Hamlet was greatly cheered to hear about the arrival of the traveling players and that he ordered them to put on a performance.

Claudius is very pleased to hear about this show of interest on the part of his melancholy stepson. He says,

"...it doth content me

To hear him so inclined.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge

And drive his purpose into these delights."

That concludes the King's interview with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Nothing much is accomplished except to establish that the King and Queen will be attending the play Hamlet has ordered the players to perform.