1. Find an educated, intelligent friend who does not have any unshakeable preconceptions about Shakespeare.

2. Remind him or her of the plot of Hamlet -- that Hamlet suspects that his uncle Claudius has murdered Hamlet's father, and that at a certain point in the play, Claudius uses Hamlet's old school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to spy on him. After greeting his old friends warmly, Hamlet slowly comes to realize that they are Claudius's spies, gets them to admit it, and his manner changes. He begins to make less and less sense, and at one point says "man delights not me" and then, seeing them smile, says "nor woman neither" whereupon Rosencrantz says that they only were smiling out of embarrassment, because they had recently encountered a group of traveling actors who were coming to offer their services to Hamlet. It turns out that the players are the great tragedians, much admired by Hamlet, who have now abandoned their theater in the city for the road.

3. Read them the following brief exchange:

How chances it they travel? their residence, both
in reputation and profit, was better both ways.

I think their inhibition comes by the means of the
late innovation.

Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was
in the city? are they so followed?

No, indeed, are they not.


It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of
Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while
my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an
hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little.
'Sblood, there is something in this more than
natural, if philosophy could find it out.

4. Ask them what they think "picture in little" refers to.

5. That's it. If your friends are like mine, you might just be inspired to read on.