Who are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

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The characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are old friends of Hamlet from his childhood. After witnessing Hamlet's strange behavior, King Claudius summons the two of them to find out the cause of his distressing "madness."

We first meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in act II, scene 2 of the play. They are welcomed immediately by their old friend, but it is not long before Hamlet sees through their fawning language and recognizes them to be spies of his uncle. It is here that Hamlet realizes he can trust nobody (except maybe Horatio).

In all the following encounters between Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the prince is cold and distant from them. He tells his mother that he trusts them as much as he trusts a poisonous snake. Later on, King Claudius sends them, along with Hamlet, to England with a letter instructing the English King to execute the prince. That they...

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