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The "play within the play" refers to the play that Hamlet has the players present in front of Claudius and the rest of the court. A traveling troupe of players has arrived at Elsinore, and Hamlet orchestrates a play for them to perform which exactly mirrors the circumstances of his father's death, as told to him by the ghost. This is Hamlet's chance to see what reaction Claudius has - If he doesn't react at all, Hamlet will know the ghost has been misleading him.
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