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Hamlet's "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I" is the first of his soliloquies. Act...

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kakes | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 26, 2010 at 4:22 AM via web

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Hamlet's "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I" is the first of his soliloquies. Act 2

What is he saying, and how does this set of words help to move him to action?

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:08 PM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet is intrigued by the fact that this actor, reciting a speech given to him by some playwright, or perhaps a speech he composed himself, is moved to weep upon the recitation.  How can he be so moved by what is only an act?  He pretends to weep for Hecuba and he's certainly never met her or been given any reason to feel emotion for her.  Yet he can move himself to tears over her.

He compares this to himself, unable to take action despite a very real offense, the suspected murder of his father.  Why is it that this actor can be moved so easily and he remains still?

His frustration leads him to the realization that perhaps he can use this power of the actors to his benefit, that he can use the play to show the king's guilt, that Claudius, if he sees his brother's murder reenacted will give some sign to show he did in fact do it.

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