English Ambassadors

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The English Ambassadors appear in Scene 20 intending to tell Claudius that England has done as ordered by executing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.


James Hay, English ambassador to France in 1604

By the pattern of Voltemand and Cornelius, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, we take it there are two English ambassadors. They do not know the order England received was a forgery by Hamlet.

The Ambassadors have traveled to Elsinore as quickly as possible because Hamlet wrote his forgery in terms of keeping the peace. That is, he wrote that the English had to kill R & G immediately, or Denmark would go to war against England. So, the English viewed it as a top priority to inform the Danes, as soon as possible, they did not choose to go to war.

  • Costume - Captain Obvious suggests, make it ambassadorial. The image is of James Hay, who was named English ambassador to France by King James I in 1604. The portrait is from 1628, but it does indicate how fancy the clothing of such a person could be.


Significant lines spoken by the English Ambassadors:

  • Where should we have our thanks?

The line is notable for its irony, which has gone unappreciated. Knowing what we know, it amounts to the Ambassadors expecting to be thanked, by the dead, for doing something they weren't really supposed to do.

Themes and Motifs

Themes and Motifs most relevant to the English Ambassadors:

Death. Duty. War.

They are doing their duty for their King and country, by reporting the deaths of R & G, to avoid war.

On Stage

The English Ambassadors appear in: Scene 20, only.

© 2014 Jeffrey Paul Jordan

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