Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Summary of Act II, Scene 1

As Act II begins, Polonius is sending his servant Reynaldo to France with money and a letter for Laertes. He also charges Reynaldo with the task of spying on Laertes’ personal life, giving him specific instructions regarding what to look for.

As Reynaldo leaves, Ophelia enters, obviously distraught. She tells Polonius that Hamlet has just left her chamber. He had rushed in, unkempt and wild-eyed, grabbed her wrists, held her, and sighed heavily before rushing off again; he said nothing. Polonius interprets this to mean Hamlet is madly in love with Ophelia and is taking Ophelia’s distancing herself from him – as Polonius instructed her to do – badly. Having convinced himself he’s discovered the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius rushes off to tell Claudius.

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