Hamlet Summary Act II

Ophelia tells her father that Hamlet had visited her poorly dressed but left after seeing her face. Polonius feels Hamlet’s irrational behavior is the result of Ophelia’s rejection of him and plans to tell the King about it.

Claudius instructs two courtiers Guildstern and Rosencrantz to find out why hamlet is behaving strangely. Queen Gertrude attributes it to the death of his father. Polonius thinks otherwise believing it to be because of his daughter.

In Act 2 Hamlets delivers one of his famous speeches defining the nature of man

“O what a piece of work is man, how noble in reason (act ii, sc ii 295).

Hamlet arranges a play for Claudius and Gertrude to find out if Claudius really did kill his father. Act 2 has several poetic devices but the most famous is Shakespeare’s proverb

“brevity is the soul of wit (act ii, scii, 86-92) .

Quoted by Polonius to justify briefness and being to the point is the essence of wittiness. The lines contain a metaphor, a personification as well as an irony which Polonius uses in context to his reference of Hamlet becoming mad.

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