Please help with a close reading relating to the plot, theme, or character analysis for the section of Hamlet's soliloquy beginning "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I" and ending "A damned defeat was made."

A close reading of this section of Hamlet's soliloquy in act 2, scene 2 reveals several characteristics of the soliloquy including characterization, motifs, and allusions.

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A close reading of a text simply means to look for specific sections that give deeper insight into the story overall. So, a reader might look for complex literary terms, revelations of characterization, important hints to what might happen next, and so on. In this soliloquy, Hamlet characterizes himself, repeats one of the central motifs, and makes allusions.

Hamlet begins his soliloquy by claiming that he is a "rogue and peasant slave" (2.2.520). Later, he calls himself a "dull and muddy-mettled rascal" (2.2.540). These two instances reveal Hamlet's self-doubting and self-deprecating nature. This characterization is important to the play since Hamlet questions himself and wavers in his resolve many times.

The contrast between appearance and reality is consistently woven through the plot and is therefore worth noting in this soliloquy. In Act 1, Scene 2, Hamlet tells his mother in regards to his father's death that he has

that within which passeth show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe (1.2.85–86).

The use of the play within the play in Hamlet, which occurs just before this soliloquy, is yet another reference to this dichotomy. When addressing this motif yet again, Hamlet says,

Is it not monstrous that this player here
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion
Could force his soul so to his own conceit (2.2.521–523).

Here, Hamlet is pondering how a play, a false appearance of reality, could bring real emotion out in Claudius.

In lines 584–585, Hamlet alludes to Hecuba and asks what Hecuba and Claudius mean to each other. Hecuba, as the historical and literary figure known as the queen of Troy, is used here to represent how sincere grief should look. When her husband, King Priam, dies, Hecuba mourns greatly. This reference, therefore, adds a great deal of depth to the lack of grief that Hamlet believes Claudius and Gertrude show.

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