Character AnalysisRosencrantz and Guildentstern are two characters that are courtiers and they assist the King of Denmark in his plots against Hamlet. The Two characters are so similar in many ways they should be considered as a unit.
King Claudius and the Queen asked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to come to Denmark and spy on Hamlet. The King and Queen welcomed the two once they arrived. Even though Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have never expressed their friendship for Hamlet or speak sympathetically about him to each other, they still are willing to do what the King and Queen ask of them. The King and Queen said, “if they do what they are told they will be rewarded.” One of the jobs that the king had them do was to spy on Hamlet and find out why he was acting so mad or insane. When Hamlet saw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he was very glad to see them and remembers how much of excellent good friends they are. Before Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were able to ask why Hamlet was acting mad, Hamlet said, “Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come, nay, speak.” Rosencrantz and Guilderstern’s response was,”When Hamlet found out that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were working for the King, Hamlet quickly ended his friendship with them and referred to them as just two schoolfellows. His distrust of them leads to his discovery of the documents ordering his execution in England and his plot to send the courtiers to this fate instead. In Act 5 scene 2 Line 376 says, King Claudius made Rosencrantz and Guildenstern deliver a letter to England. The letter said that the King of England will kill Hamlet because he had lost a war. Hamlet replaces the letter that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are carrying to England with a forgery of his own making, sending these two men to their deaths. He does this without giving it a second thought and never suffers from any guilt or remorse for his actions. Considering that these two men were friends from school. However, one must consider carefully the characters of Rosencrant and Guildenstern before passing judgment on Hamlet.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are sent for by King Claudius and Queen Gertrude to spy on Hamlet and learn why he “puts on this confusion.” While some are fooled by Hamlets act of insanity, the king is not. He will try whatever it takes to find out why he has been acting that way. He is convinced that it is an act, and Hamlet is up to no good. Claudius obtained the throne through deceit and murder; he believes Hamlet is capable of doing the same thing. While King Claudius is evil, he is not a fool and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if they were such close friends of Hamlet. They are even told outright that they will be rewareded for their efforts.
Depsite Rosencrantz and Guildensterns actions, Hamlet gives them an opportunity to show their loyalty by admitting that they were sent for and why. By showing so much reluctance, they show themselves to be allies of the King. Hamlet asks them, “Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come, nay, speak.” (II, ii. 259-266) Guildenstern’s response was, “My lord, we were sent for.” (II, ii. 276) Hamlet asks them to “be even and direct with, whether you were sent for or no.” But after this question, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern asks if he should tell the King the truth.
When Rosencrantz and Guildenster report back to the King, they refer to Hamlet’s action as a “crafty madness” used to mislead them concerning his true state of mind. (III, i. 8) When Hamlet goes and tells the Queen, he reveals that he is fully aware of whats going on. He says that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are no longer childhood friends, but rather adders fanged. They are involved in a conspiracy to destroy Hamlet and he will see them hoist with their own petar. Not only does he intend to outsmart them, but he will relish it as well. I, ‘tis most sweet.(III, iv. 202-09)