Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, marking one of his most iconic works.

In this post, I will provide a comprehensive plot summary of Hamlet Act 2, broken down by scene with corresponding questions and answers for each section.

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Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet Act 2 Scene 1

Polonius sends Reynaldo to Paris to find out about Laertes without asking him directly. He tells Reynaldo to talk to people who know Laertes there. After Reynaldo goes, Ophelia comes in, upset. She tells her father that Hamlet came to her in a messy state, without his hat and with his clothes undone. He grabbed her arm, looked at her quietly, sighed deeply, and then left. Polonius thinks Hamlet is in love and believes he was serious about Ophelia. Polonius and Ophelia go to tell Claudius about what happened.

Questions on Hamlet Act 2 Scene 1

  1. Who does Polonius send and for what purpose? Answer: Polonius sends Reynaldo to Paris to discreetly gather information about Laertes without asking him directly.
  2. What does Ophelia tell Polonius about her encounter with Hamlet? Answer: Ophelia describes an unsettling encounter with Hamlet, where he appeared disheveled, without his hat and with his clothes in disarray. He grabbed her arm, gazed silently at her, sighed deeply, and then left.
  3. How does Polonius interpret Hamlet’s behavior towards Ophelia? Answer: Polonius believes that Hamlet’s disheveled state and actions suggest that he is in love and was genuinely serious about Ophelia.
  4. What decision do Polonius and Ophelia make following her encounter with Hamlet? Answer: Polonius and Ophelia decide to inform King Claudius about the unsettling incident involving Hamlet and Ophelia.
  5. Why did Polonius send Reynaldo to Paris and what instructions did he give him? Answer: Polonius sent Reynaldo to Paris to discreetly gather information about Laertes. He instructed Reynaldo to talk to people who know Laertes there without directly questioning Laertes.

Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2

King Claudius and Queen Gertrude meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are old friends of Hamlet. They agree to visit Hamlet and find out why he’s changed. Polonius comes in and says Voltemand and Cornelius from Norway are here, but he doesn’t reveal why Hamlet is upset until they are heard. Voltemand and Cornelius tell Claudius that the sick King of Norway, knowing Fortinbras planned to attack Denmark, redirected him to Poland. They ask for permission for Norway’s armies to pass through Denmark, and Claudius agrees to think about it.

Polonius begins a long story but Gertrude asks for less talk and more substance. He starts reading a letter from Ophelia. Gertrude interrupts, asking if the letter is from Hamlet. Polonius insists on continuing. When Claudius asks about Hamlet’s love for Ophelia, Polonius boasts about being a careful father. He’s sure Hamlet is lovesick and stakes his reputation on it.

Polonius plans to eavesdrop on a conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia to prove his theory. The king and Polonius leave as Hamlet enters, reading a book. They have a confusing conversation, and Polonius leaves, thinking Hamlet is mad. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive. Hamlet suggests they are like prisoners in Denmark and guesses they were sent by the king and queen. They admit it and inform Hamlet about the arrival of a troupe of actors.

Hamlet tells his friends he’s only pretending to be mad, despite what his uncle and mother think. When the actors arrive, Hamlet asks one to perform a specific piece. He secretly plans to have the actors perform a play that mimics his father’s murder to see how Claudius reacts.

After everyone leaves, Hamlet reflects on his lack of action compared to the actor’s passion. He decides to use the play to test if the Ghost is good or evil. Claudius’s reaction during the play will reveal his guilt or innocence.

Questions on Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2

  1. Who meets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and plans to visit Hamlet to discover the reason for his changed behavior? Answer: King Claudius and Queen Gertrude meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and decide to visit Hamlet to ascertain why he’s behaving differently.
  2. Who interrupts Polonius during his long-winded explanation, and what is the reason for the interruption? Answer: Gertrude interrupts Polonius, urging for less talk and more substance.
  3. What news does Voltemand and Cornelius bring to King Claudius from Norway? Answer: Voltemand and Cornelius inform Claudius that the sick King of Norway diverted Fortinbras from attacking Denmark towards Poland. They seek permission for Norway’s armies to pass through Denmark, and Claudius agrees to consider it.
  4. What does Polonius boast about in the presence of King Claudius regarding Hamlet? Answer: Polonius boasts about being a careful father and insists that Hamlet is lovesick, staking his reputation on his theory.
  5. What plan does Polonius devise to prove his theory about Hamlet’s condition? Answer: Polonius plans to eavesdrop on a conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia to substantiate his theory.
  6. What does Hamlet reveal to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about his apparent madness? Answer: Hamlet admits to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is only pretending to be mad, despite what his uncle and mother believe.
  7. What secret plan does Hamlet formulate upon learning about the arrival of a troupe of actors? Answer: Hamlet intends to have the actors perform a play that mirrors his father’s murder to gauge Claudius’s reaction.
  8. What does Hamlet aim to ascertain by observing Claudius’s reaction during the play performed by the actors? Answer: Hamlet intends to confirm Claudius’s guilt or innocence in his father’s murder by observing his reaction during the play.
  9. Why does Hamlet decide to use the play to test the Ghost’s authenticity? Answer: Hamlet wants to determine if the Ghost is good or evil by observing Claudius’s response during the play.
  10. What information do Voltemand and Cornelius bring from Norway to King Claudius, and what request do they make? Answer: They inform Claudius that the sick King of Norway redirected Fortinbras’s plan to attack Denmark towards Poland. They request permission for Norway’s armies to pass through Denmark, and Claudius agrees to consider the request.
  11. Why does Polonius plan to eavesdrop on Hamlet’s conversation with Ophelia? Answer: Polonius wants to confirm his suspicion that Hamlet is lovesick by overhearing his conversation with Ophelia.
  12. What is the purpose behind Hamlet’s decision to have the actors perform a play that mirrors his father’s murder? Answer: Hamlet intends to observe Claudius’s reaction during the play to discern whether his uncle is guilty of murdering his father.
  13. How does Hamlet describe his plan to his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, concerning the actors and their performance? Answer: Hamlet informs his friends that he will have the actors perform a specific play, hinting that it mirrors the circumstances of his father’s murder.
  14. What revelation does Hamlet make about his apparent madness to his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Answer: Hamlet confesses to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is only pretending to be mad, despite his uncle and mother’s belief in his madness.
  15. What does Hamlet reflect upon after everyone leaves following the discussion about the play performed by the actors? Answer: Hamlet contemplates his own inaction in comparison to the passion shown by the actors, particularly in avenging his father’s death.
  16. What strategy does Hamlet plan to employ by using the play performed by the actors? Answer: Hamlet plans to use the play to test whether the Ghost’s intentions are good or evil, based on Claudius’s reaction.
  17. How does King Claudius react to the news brought by Voltemand and Cornelius from Norway? Answer: Claudius agrees to consider the request for Norway’s armies to pass through Denmark, following the diversion of Fortinbras’s attack towards Poland.
  18. What reaction does Gertrude have when Polonius begins reading a letter from Ophelia? Answer: Gertrude interrupts Polonius, asking if the letter is from Hamlet, showing her concern about Hamlet’s involvement.
  19. What is Polonius’s theory about Hamlet’s behavior, and what plan does he devise to confirm it? Answer: Polonius believes that Hamlet is lovesick. He plans to eavesdrop on a conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia to confirm his theory.

Also, Read

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 4

Hamlet Act 4

Hamlet Act 5

Hamlet Act 5

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