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The Play within a Play: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark - Essay Example

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An author of the essay " The Play within a Play: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" reports that the ghost demands vengeance, but Hamlet is unsure whether he should believe the ghost and begins to look for ways to prove that what the ghost says is true…
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The Play within a Play: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Download file to see previous pages... Hamlet knows he must also find a way to bring about the revenge that is demanded if the ghost is correct. Hamlet feigns insanity to discover the truth, but he also employs other means of trying to determine whether or not his uncle is guilty of the crimes the ghost has accused him of committing. One example of this can be found in Act III, scene II in the Mousetrap play frequently referred to as the ‘play within the play’, in which Hamlet directs the players to act out the story of a man poisoning the king in order to marry the queen and seize power for himself. The function of the play is to uncover the conscience of the king, but Shakespeare also uses it to heighten the tension between Hamlet and the King and helps to expose one of Hamlet’s main themes, that of action versus inaction. In trying to prove that his uncle is guilty, Hamlet decides to use a troupe of players that have come to the castle. He first directs the players to perform a specific play that comes close to mimicking what he believes must have happened between his father and his uncle in Act 2, scene 2. He reveals his purpose for doing this in soliloquy that closes the Act: “I have heard that guilty creature sitting at a play / Have by the very cunning of the scene / Been struck so to the soul that presently / They have proclaimed their malefactions / … / I’ll observe his looks. / I’ll tent him to the quick. If ‘a do blench, / I know my course / … / The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (II, ii, 575-578, 582-584, 590-591). In preparing for the performance, Hamlet provides the players with specific lines and actions to include within the overall play they are about to perform and gives them lengthy instructions as to the acting of it so as to make it seem as real as possible. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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