This drawing illustrates Polonius pointing to Hamlet's book and asking the prince: 'What do you read, my Lord?... Words, Words, Words' (act II, scene II, verses 191-192). It is Delacroix' first sketch for a lithograph from a series by Gérard René Villain (1740-1836), illustrating Shakespeare's play (L. Delteil, Delacroix. The Graphic Work. A Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1997, no. 106). Two other Delacroix drawings of Polonius and Hamlet were made into prints by Villain: The Murder of Polonius and Hamlet, and The Corpse of Polonius (ibid., nos. 111-115).