Tis most true, And he beseeched me to entreat your majesties To hear and see the matter.

If you’d told me when I started this project that, through it, I’d become very interested in royal protocol, I’d have been very surprised. I thought, as I unpacked each line, that I’d fall into poetic raptures and sink deep into the pleasures of alliteration. Instead I find that so many lines lead me to wonder about the chains of command, rituals and methodologies.

This one, for example, leads me to wonder why Polonius is the intermediary between Hamlet and the King and Queen. That is, would Polonius normally occupy this position – of being beseeched by Hamlet to beseech the King and Queen? Can Hamlet not invite them himself? Or can he invite them but he chooses to use Polonius as a go-between? (This is all even more interesting when I think about how most of Hamlet’s madman performances seem to be FOR Polonius.) There’s a way that having Polonius be the one to invite the King and Queen contributes to the level of political calculation that Hamlet is doing. If it is the usual protocol to have Polonius as the conduit between these people in most things then this is not so unusual. Polonius may be the filter or the dam between Hamlet and Claudius, and perhaps even Gertrude. Having Polonius always in the middle complicates everything in a very interesting way.


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