How does Shakespeare target his Elizabethan audience with Act IV in "Hamlet"?  I need to find a speech to show 3 ways that Shakespeare targets his Elizabethan audience. I'm lost with this...

How does Shakespeare target his Elizabethan audience with Act IV in "Hamlet"?

 

I need to find a speech to show 3 ways that Shakespeare targets his Elizabethan audience. I'm lost with this one...any help would be really appreciated!!!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A prevailing motif of Act IV of "Hamlet" is Hamlet's mockery of  hypocrisy.  In light of the fact that his father John had once been very popular with civic positions of favor, and then fell out of favor, Shakespeare could be targeting his Elizabethan audience in this respect.

For instance, in speaking with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Scene II, Hamlet caustically mocks their hypocrisy to him as well as their sycophancy to King Claudius:

But such officers do the king best service in the end.  He keeps them like an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be last swallowed.  When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again. *IV,ii,13-18)

Shakespeare's disgust for the political manipulations of the time that allow so many men to die without justification are evident in Scene IV:

Witness this army of such mass and charge,/Led by a delicate and tender prince,/Whose spirit with divine ambitions puffed,/Makes mouths at the invisible event,/Exposing what is mortal and unsure/To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,/Even for an eggshell.... (IV, iii, 47-53)

Throughout this act, the political manipulations of Claudius are evident.  Perhaps, here, too, Shakespeare offers a criticism of hypocrisy as Claudius manipulates situations in order to get Hamlet to England and be rid of him.  Knowing the truth, Hamlet yet writes Claudius:

'High and mighty, you shall know that I am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon, thereunto recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return. (IV,vii,42-45)

In Scene VII, he certainly manipulates Laertes in order to steel him in his resolve to avenge himself against Hamlet.

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a-sizer | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Mwestwood--

When you discuss the issue of political manipulation, are you refering to the Spanish Armada led by the seasick 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588?? 

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