Wilt please you go, my lord?

Oh are you here, too, Rosencrantz? I forgot about you. Whatcha been doing? Just, like, checking your watch? Taking photos of the Norwegian troops? I think this short exchange is often cut – as if Hamlet is just on his own outside, on his way to England – but of course he COULDN’T be on his own. He needs to be escorted to the boat or he probably wouldn’t show. Claudius would insist he be accompanied all the way. It is amazing that they let Hamlet tell them to go on ahead and then they do! They leave their prisoner alone! There must be another scout somewhere behind them to pick him up if he doesn’t go.

Bring in the lord.

It would be funny if you could bring in a god – like for court or something.
Like, say, put him on trail for that tsunami or earthquake. They call him as a witness. He takes the 5th. Submits to the court.

Until he tires of the proceedings and just goes ahead and sends a tornado to carry the courthouse into the ocean.


This is one of those words that makes contemporary kids crack up. Whenever it shows up in the plays, they fall about laughing.
To them “Ho” means “whore.” And a very particular brand of whore, no less.
What they almost never realize is how many actual references to whores there are in the plays. These accidental whorish moments are hilarious to them – meanwhile the actual whore jokes sail right on past.

But I am not the sort to make sure they get them. I might be the sort to suggest that there are many references like this in a scene and send the students in search of them. It’s always more fun as a discovery. May I never be that creepy teacher who’s like, “This is a sexual allusion, kids. Get it? Get it? Let me explain it.”

Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord, we cannot get from him.

I love the inversion in this line. It’s like – you’d think you’d SAVE the words “dead body” for the end of the sentence…that if you’re working yourself up to a difficult bit of language, that “dead body” would be at the end. As in “We cannot get from him where the dead body is bestowed, my lord.” Or even better, “My lord, we cannot get from him where he has bestowed the dead body.” That’s how most of us would phrase information like this… we’d save the dead body, a thing we don’t like to discuss, for the end. But for Rosencrantz, he leads with the dead body and is saving for the end, instead, his own failure.

My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.

Rosencrantz is such a tool, isn’t he? He sounds like some sort of uptight school boy trying to get one of his fellow students to follow the rules. I bet, if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern went to boarding school, that Rosencrantz was a head boy or prefect or whatever you call a rule following, rule enforcing pain in the ass kind of kid. I don’t know. All of my knowledge of boarding school comes from books. Dickens, Fry, Rowling. But. This line in particular makes me picture Rosencrantz as a kid in a uniform with his hair all organized and his handkerchief placed perfectly in his pocket.

I understand you not, my lord.

Poor Rosencrantz. Does he really not understand or is he pretending not to understand?
If he doesn’t understand wouldn’t it have been wiser to ask exactly what Hamlet means? And if Hamlet had broken it down for him a bit, would he reconsider his position as resident toady for the King?
I mean, with Polonius gone, there’s no other obvious choice for company toady. Rosencrantz may be angling for the spying, sucking up position. And, of course, ends up dead. Osric steps in to the position later – and he lives, it would seem. One of the few to survive the play.

Tell us where ‘tis, that we may take it thence And bear it to the chapel.

They’re really outing themselves now. They’re not even trying to pretend that they’re there as Hamlet’s friends. This line makes it crystal clear where their alliance lies.
1) They know about the dead body. And they’re coming after Hamlet for it.
2) They have the job of carrying the dead body to the chapel. This is not work you give your step-son’s friends. This is work you give to your cronies. Plain and simple. What’s that line about how a good friend will help you move but the best friends will help you move a body?

What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?

I’ve done some work with a program in which students use Shakespeare as found text. They’re constantly searching for lines that could apply to their new (invented) circumstances. Most recently, I had a group creating a kidnapping scene and another creating a Black Lives Matter protest show. It is not easy to fold one thing into the other.

I feel like this line would be a great one for one of those sorts of dramatic devised scenes. I can imagine a group just developing a whole new scene with only this line as a prompt. It would be a different way to start – but a very interesting one.