Act 2, Scene 1
Elsinore (where else?). A room in Polonius' house.
Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.
Polonius: Give Laertes this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
Reynaldo: I will, my lord.
Polonius: Before you go visit him, ask around to see how he's been acting.
Reynaldo: I was planning to.
Polonius: Good. Check up on the Danes in Paris. See who knows my son. Ask about him. Understand?
Reynaldo: Yes. Very well, my lord.
Polonius: Pretend you don't know Laertes well, but say you've heard he's a wild guy. Spread rumors about him, but nothing too bad. Don't ruin our family's honor. Just make him sound like a party animal.
Reynaldo: A gambler?
Polonius: Sure. Drinking, fencing, swearing, fighting, whoring...anything like that.
Reynaldo: Wouldn't that make him look awfully bad?
Polonius: Heck, no. Just make him sound like a reckless youth.
Polonius: You want to know why I'm having you do this?
Reynaldo: Yeah. Why?
Polonius: Frankly, my son is too good for his own good. He has no life. He's boring. So I want you to make him seem more wordly.
Reynaldo: Oh. Okay.
Polonius: And then, after that, you...uh...what was I saying? Where was I?
Reynaldo: You were telling me why you want me to drag Laertes' name through the mud.
Polonius: Oh yeah. Right. Gossip about him. Say you saw him going into brothels, gambling, getting drunk...stuff like that. See if other people are surprised, or if they say, "Oh, that crazy Laertes. He's always running around like that." See if the dear boy is following my advice. Understand?
Reynaldo: I guess so.
Polonius: Good. See you later!
Polonius: Go spy on my son.
Reynaldo: I will.
Polonius: See what he's doing.
Reynaldo: No problem.
Polonius: Hey, Ophelia. What's the matter?
Ophelia: Oh, Daddy, I've been scared out of my wits!
Polonius: Good grief? By what?
Ophelia: I was sewing in my bedroom when Hamlet ran in. He was only half-dressed. No hat, dirty socks, and pale as his unbuttoned shirt! His knees were knocking. He looked like he'd been to Hell and back.
Polonius: Did he come there hoping to score with you?
Ophelia: I don't know, but that's what I'm afraid of.
Polonius: What did he say?
Ophelia: He grabbed my wrist and held me at arm's length, with his hand over his forehead. He studied my face so closely, you'd have thought he meant to draw a portrait of me from memory later. He stayed that way for a while. Then, he trembled and gave the deepest sigh I've ever heard. He let me go and walked to the door, but he looked at me over his shoulder the whole time, as if he didn't care if he ran into something. But he didn't. He found the doors just fine and left.
Polonius: Come with me. We've got to talk to the King about this. He must be madly in love with you. Why else would he be acting so strangely? Have you been encouraging him?
Ophelia: No, Daddy. You told me not to, so I've sent back all his letters and avoided him.
Polonius: Maybe that has made him mad. I'm sorry I was so old-fashioned before. Maybe he really is serious about your relationship. Let's go see what King Claudius has to say about it.