After the insert-play, the relationship between Hamlet and Claudius cannot be the same as it was before. Explain.William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Hamlet" the play within the play in Scene 2 of Act III is certainly an example of art imitating the art that imitates life. So, to employ an old slang expression, Claudius realizes that "the gig is up!"--his devious and heinous crime is known to Hamlet and, indeed, some lines of the play are dangerous portentous.  For example,

'tis not strange/ That even our loves with our fortunes change

suggests the danger to Claudius that exists.

During the course of the play, when Hamlet remarks that the audience will see how the "murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife," Claudius bolts from his seat.  Later, Guildenstein and Rosencratz report that Clausdius "Is in his retirement marvellous distempered....with choler [anger]" (III,ii,275-277). Shortly after this they report back to Claudius who tells them,

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us/To let his madness range./Therefore prepare you./I your commission will forthwith dispatch,/And he to Englsnd shall along with you./The terms of our estate may not endure/Hazard so near's as doth hourly grow/Out of his brows. (III,iii,363-370)

That Guildenstein and Rosencratz, supposed friends of Hamlet, stress the importance of protecting him from harm, suggesting that their standing with the monarch is of more importance to them than any friendship with Hamlet.  Thus, they further the theme of duplicity that has been presented in the play. Now in this Scene 3, art that imitates life imitates art.

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