The queen desires you to use some gentle Entertainment to Laertes before you fall to play.

What DOES the Queen mean here? She surely doesn’t mean a recitation of poetry or some light soft rock playing.

If Hamlet’s actual actions in the scene have met her request, it’s some light banter and a heartfelt apology.

I think it’s probably an exchanging of niceties, really. 

Why does a grown man need to be suggested such a thing via a third party? And not even a third party with a name.

It’s a little bit patronizing.

But it also makes me wonder if there’s some coded messaging that might happen between mother and son in such a codified environment. These two haven’t talked since they discussed Hamlet Senior’s murder. They haven’t even had a chat since Ophelia died and Hamlet tried to leap into her grave.

Is this instruction as patronizing as it seems or does it contain some message? Or did it contain a message that the lord has observed in his reporting of it?

Probably it’s just a motherly suggestion of being nice to your opponent before you try to kill him with a sword – but maybe there’s more!

He sends to know if your pleasure hold to Play with Laertes, or that you will take longer time.

Mmmm. “Play” with Laertes. Sure. It’s a game. Sure. I mean – it’s a particularly misleading way to talk about a fight. Like – if it were a boxing match and someone came in to ask you if you were ready to PLAY with Mike Tyson. Uh. It’s a fight, right? A match? A sparring?

We use “play” in the context of contests like chess – which are also matches – but when swords are involved, can we rightly call it play? Unless you’re eight and you’re using toy swords, it seems like a stretch.

My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him that you attend him in The hall:

It’s interesting that this random Lord makes a point of calling Osric “young.” Osric doesn’t seem young and maybe he isn’t. It’s possible that this lord is very old and everyone is young to him – though it doesn’t seem nice to send an old man to do your errands.

Why does the king send this guy instead?

It’s possible, of course, that Osric has been flustered by the exchange with Hamlet – but I doubt he’d have the authority to unselect himself for the message delivery job. It’s the king’s choice to send Osric and then not send him. It’s the king’s choice to send “lord” who describes Osric as “young.” Why?