To begin analysis of Hamlet Act 2 using Tapor, I went to the one tool that offers the most information: List Words. Below is the list of words that came up, ordered from highest to lowest.
The word that caught my attention most was â€œknowâ€. My first impression upon re-reading Act 2 was the same as anytime Iâ€™ve read Act 2. Polonius is a prize buffoon. How he managed to become a counselor to the king surely says something about Claudiusâ€¦ But back to â€œknowâ€. Knowledge is something key within all of â€œHamlet.â€ How this knowledge is obtained â€“ or failing to be obtained â€“ is very interesting.
Act 2 contains within it a lot of surveillance of characters upon characters. There seems to exist within â€œHamletâ€ a constant pursuit of knowledge and truth in order to either justify actions, or to deceive for personal gain. Polonius, inflated windbag that he is, is certainly at the center of a lot of this surveillance, or spying.
Here is a list of examples of surveillance within act 2:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Polonius on Laertes through Reynoaldo
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Polonius on Ophelia regarding Hamlets courting
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Claudius on Fortinbras through Voltemand regarding war with Norway â€“ this is the only example that actually has any concrete reasoning behind it
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Polonius and Claudius and their original plan to hide behind the wall tapestry in an attempt to get Ophelia to bait Hamlet into admitting his madness-inducing love for her â€“ this plan gets spoiled when Hamlet suddenly arrives, but still leads to:
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Polonius questioning Hamlet â€“ and Polonius thinks heâ€™s so clever with his snide little asides.
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Claudius on Hamlet (by sending Guildenstern and Rosencrantz â€“ Hamlet doesnâ€™t even have to twist Guildensternâ€™s arm to get admission of this)
- Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And finally, the arrival of the players at the Acts conclusion foreshadows Hamlets surveillance on the King during the play.
For a rather short act, I was very surprised to find as much spying as I did. Whatâ€™s interesting about all these is that most of them involve either sending someone else in to spy for you, or of course Poloniusâ€™ go to plan: hide behind something! The curtain eventually does him in of courseâ€¦
So why does so much deceitful spying occur? Considering that most of these are familial relationships, the amount of passive aggression and distrust is shocking. Did it ever occur to them to just ask each other about anything? Is this, perhaps, Shakespeareâ€™s subtle way of addressing the politics at the time?
While the Trojan horse may not be as brilliant as hiding behind a curtain, or sending your servant (Reynaldo) to candidly ask strangers about your sons (Laertes) alleged gambling/sex addiction, it is still another example of deception being used to gain the upper hand.
So with my focus on the constant schemes to gain knowledge through secret surveillance, how can I use my digital tool, and fellow group memberâ€™s tools, to delve deeper? Within Tapor, beyond searching for words that occur around â€œknowâ€ or simply searching for synonyms, I feel it canâ€™t take me much further. Lemmas would be a very useful tool â€“ MONK or Wordseer? Voyeur/Voyant would definitely be helpful in producing distribution charts of where certain words (like â€œknowâ€) show up. Also, if thereâ€™s any tool that can easily detect who says certain words, that would be helpful to. I have a feeling it’s mostly Polonius, being the delusory little blowhard that he is, who is mostly involved â€“ Yet it is the surveillance between Hamlet and Claudius that is most central to the play as a whole.