And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

Judges, he says. Judges plural. When judgment is called for – Osric delivers it but is he the judges? He is only one, not particularly judiciary, man. Is he rather the voice for the actual judges of this contest? Do the actual judges confer and decide the points? Deliver their verdicts like Olympic judges with cards or hand signals or gestures of some kind?

And what exactly is Claudius getting at in telling the judges to bear a wary eye? Is it because he’s about to pull some dirty tricks and the way to misdirect from your own dirty tricks is to tell people to be on the look out for some other people’s.

But what’s weird about suggesting the judges bear a wary eye is that he may be suggesting they keep an eye on Hamlet, whom he has just bet on and talked up. Laertes IS in fact about to do some dirty deeds – so telling the judges to watch HIM is selling his own conspirator down the river. Which, of course, he WOULD do – but maybe not before his conspirator put a sword in the guy he wants dead.

It is a weird thing to say before beginning this duel.


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