act 3 scene 2

why does hamlet insist that rosencrantz and guildenstern play the recorders when he knows they do not know how to play the instrument?

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Hamlet is feeling "played" by his friends as they try to figure out his madness. He uses the recorder as an example of something played, asking Guildenstern to play him in the fashion that one plays a recorder. He carries this metaphor throughout the next several discussions until the "friends" from his past finally confess that they have indeed been sent for.