The First Player's speech is often cut in performances of the play.  Explain why it is important and why it should not be cut.Act 2

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Hamlet, Act II, Hamlet says:

One speech in it I
chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido; and
thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter:

  • The Player's first monologue is essential to the play for the following reasons:
  • It begins the meta-drama motif: theatre about theatre.  The key to uncovering Claudius' guilt is through theatre.
  • It mirrors the Ghost's monologue from Act I.  Hamlet is drawn to morbid dialogues: they set him in motion.
  • It foils Hamlet's predicament.  Pyrrhus killing Priam is analogous to Hamlet killing Claudius.  The speech is both an allusion and a foreshadowing of his revenge against a King.
  • It shows Hamlet's love of the theatre.  Hamlet is happiest in Act II: the players and Horatio are the only ones he trusts.  As Denmark is a prison, Hamlet is free only while he's on stage.
  • It shows hilarious critical commentary between Hamlet and Polonius.  It shows that Hamlet knows what good art is and Polonius does not.  The monologue foils the artistic hero and the fool.


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