"The play is the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King". Explain the importance of this statement.I have the hardest assignment on Hamlet coming up soon, and it would be soooo hopeful...

"The play is the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King". Explain the importance of this statement.

I have the hardest assignment on Hamlet coming up soon, and it would be soooo hopeful if anybody could answer this for me!!!

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bfleming1949 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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The Ghost of Prince Hamlet's dead father, King Hamlet, calls on Hamlet to avenge his murder by the new King, Claudius, who the Ghost says commited the murder. Hamlet has mourned his father's death and railed against his mother's quick marriage to Claudius to the extreme, including considering suicide - "O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!" - yet he cannot bring himself to act against Claudius until he has sufficient evidence to convince himself that Claudius has actually committed the crime. When the Players come to Elsinore and are invited to play for the court, Hamlet conceives a plan to gather more evidence of Claudius' guilt. As a lover of "play," Hamlet knows something of the workings of theatrical performance and recalls having heard "That guilty creatures sitting in a play Have, by the very cunning of the scene, Been struck so to the soul that presently They have proclaimed their malefactions." He devises the plan that he will ask the players to perform a scene similar to the situation which caused his father's death - poison poured in the ear - and which reveals the behind the scenes workings of Claudius to gain the hand of Gertrude in marriage. His soliloquy at the end of Act 2. sc. 2 in which he conceives the plan ends with the famous heroic couplet, "More relative than this. The plays the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King," exhibiting a seemingly much more confident Prince Hamlet; yet, some would say that this is Hamlet putting off his duty one more time and is just one more example of Hamlet's indecisiveness and his inability to follow through with the Ghost's call for revenge.

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