Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Act 3 of Hamlet, what extended simile does Hamlet employ with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

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Act 3, scene 2 in Shakespeare's Hamlet is the "play-within-a-play" scene, in which visiting actors perform a play, The Murder of Gonzago, which—with "a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines" that Hamlet added to the play—closely resembles the manner in which Claudius murdered Hamlet's father.

The play seriously upsets Claudius, which seriously upsets his wife, Gertrude, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Hamlet to tell him that she'd like to speak with him. Rather than do as his mother requests, Hamlet chooses to stay and banter with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

While Hamlet is playing words with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the "play-within-a-play" actors pass through with their musical instruments. Hamlet asks to see a recorder, which he then uses as the physical representation of an extended metaphor.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have standing orders from Claudius to find out what Hamlet knows and what's troubling him and report whatever they "glean" back to Claudius.


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