The scene opens with Claudius and Gertrude questioning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about Hamlet’s state of mind. As this part winds down, Claudius has an aside that reveals his feelings. An “aside” is something that only the audience can hear:
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience! The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ring art, Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it Than is my deed to my most painted word. O heavy burden!
The king is expressing feelings of guilt over his actions (killing his brother, Hamlet’s father). He’s saying that no matter how he tries to smooth things over (his “painted word”), he is still defined by what he has done (“my deed”). This is a type of conflict called “internal conflict.” That means a character experiences the conflict inside himself—it is not the direct result of someone or something else (although it is often the indirect result of someone or something else).
Next, we have a monologue from...
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