In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there is a fine line to navigate as to whether Hamlet is manipulative and selfish—where we fall with regard to that line is based upon Hamlet's circumstances.
One might believe that Hamlet is manipulative because he plays Claudius and his supporters like an instrument, knowing what to do to get the response he is looking for. Ironically, Hamlet says something about this very kind of manipulation to Guildenstern.
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make
of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery;
you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my
compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in
this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood,
do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call
me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you
cannot play upon me. (III.ii.348-356)
When Hamlet tells Guildenstern to play a pipe (flute), Guildenstern swears he does not...
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