Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2

Why does Claudius hire Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as spies? How does Hamlet feel about them, and Why?

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King Claudius has made plans of his own to discover the reasons for Hamlet’s supposed madness. He has summoned two of Hamlet’s school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, both to comfort his nephew-cum-son and to try to discover the reason for his distemper (so he says). The two scholars are only too happy to oblige in this task.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern surprise their friend Hamlet, and the three friends banter philosophically for a good while before Hamlet asks the two why they have come to Elsinore. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to dodge this question, declaring that they have come for no other reason than to visit him. Hamlet, though, won’t let them off the hook, and makes them admit that the king and queen sent for them. When they admit it, Hamlet also tells them why they were sent for – because he has been deeply melancholy, and has foregone his accustomed behavior. Hamlet then describes his misery, and from his openess, we can infer he trusts these men.