Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Compare Hamlet's soliloquy at the end of Act IV, Scene 4, with the one in Act II, Scene 2. Based on his sentiments and the themes in these two passages, what assessment would you provide of Hamlet's self-image in both instances?

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In Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet passes severe judgment on himself. His harsh criticism stems from what he believes to be cowardice. Hamlet made a solemn promise to his father's ghost that he would avenge his father's death at the earliest opportunity. Some time has already passed, but Hamlet has failed to fulfill his pledge.

Hamlet uses harsh terms in his self-criticism, comparing himself to an actor who can so easily appear sorrowful and anxious by merely thinking about something of no real importance to him:

...this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!

Hamlet cannot summon up enough courage to take revenge, though.

...Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property...

(The entire section contains 756 words.)

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