CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE enter with ROSENCRANTZ , GUILDENSTERN, and attendants. Some critics speculate that Shakespeare means for us to infer that Hamlet, knowing that pirates lurk in every bay, has arranged for the pirates to subvert Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's mission. They fail again. GUILDENSTERN Happy, in that we are not over-happy; On fortune’s cap we are not the very button. 4.4 Hamlet philosophizes about death on the way to England; Rosencrantz tells Hamlet to get a move on. Hamlet acts happy to see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at first—but as the scene progresses, it becomes clear that he wants to confuse, mislead, and toy with them just as he did to Polonius. HALL Mmmm, yeah. That you must teach me. OATES (silent) HAMLET There is a kind of confession in your looks … As long as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern seem genuinely shocked by Hamlet’s treatment of them at the end of act III, scene II, in which he is dismissive and impolite. The title of this Tom Stoppard play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, is taken from the final scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Increasingly concerned about Hamlet’s erratic behavior and his apparent inability to recover from his father’s death, the king and queen have summoned his friends to Elsinore in the hope that they might be able to cheer Hamlet out of his … [aside to Guildenstern] What say you?

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern admit to Hamlet’s suspicions that they were recruited by the king and queen to spy on him, Hamlet accuses them of being “sponge[s]” who let themselves be taken advantage of by doing Claudius’s dirty work. ROSENCRANTZ As the indifferent children of the earth. 5.2 Hamlet announces that he arranged for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be killed. Observing the same scenes from a different viewpoint makes the audience question the normalcy of what is occurring. After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and Claudius may secretly observe a meeting between her and Hamlet. Seeing him do this further convinces them of King Hamlet’s notion that Prince Hamlet has gone mad. How do ye four? HAMLET My excellent good friends! Within the castle, Claudius and Gertrude welcome Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two of Hamlet’s friends from Wittenberg. In this case, Hamlet talking to himself in Hamlet … Ophelia, Gertrude, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.

Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Does this finale mean that death is a bad thing? Mmmm, yeah, hey. I’ve wanted to see you for a long time now, but I sent for you so hastily because I need your help right away. 4.4 Hamlet philosophizes about death on the way to England; Rosencrantz tells Hamlet to get a move on. Hamlet is onto them, and refuses to be made a fool of by any of the courtiers at Elsinore. The King, Hamlet suggests, keeps Rosencrantz and Guildenstern around "as an ape doth nuts, and in the corner of his jaw; first mout'd to be last swallowed."

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