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Gauging Claudius and "The Murder' PlayCritics suggest that Hamlet wishes the Players to...

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 20, 2008 at 5:34 PM via web

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Gauging Claudius and "The Murder' Play

Critics suggest that Hamlet wishes the Players to perform "The Murder of Gonzago" either to prove Claudius' lack of education/worldy experience or conversely, that he knows Claudius will be familiar enough with the revenge play to recognize not only the intent but the additional lines Hamlet inserts.  Which theory do you side with and why? 

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted February 20, 2008 at 8:01 PM (Answer #2)

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I like to think that Hamlet is intelligent enough to want both from the play. I think he sets it up and he thinks that it could go either way and he would be happy. If Claudius proves to lack worldly knowledge and experience then Hamlet can assess his foe based on this knowledge. If Claudius reacts to the familiarity and the addition then Hamlet will know that Claudius' senses are heightened to a possible revenge plot being executed against him. Either reaction will reveal to Hamlet what he is dealing with as far as his foe goes. From this knowledge he is able to decide how he might act.

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