What does Hamlet dislike about certain actors? What does he want from them?

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In act 3, scene 2, Hamlet gives the actors minute instructions in the common faults they should avoid. Shakespeare certainly appears to be using Hamlet as a mouthpiece here to air some of his own grievances against actors who failed to do justice to his work. Hamlet's first points are...

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In act 3, scene 2, Hamlet gives the actors minute instructions in the common faults they should avoid. Shakespeare certainly appears to be using Hamlet as a mouthpiece here to air some of his own grievances against actors who failed to do justice to his work. Hamlet's first points are about subtlety. Some actors, he says, are inclined to shout and make extravagant gestures, "sawing the air" with their hands. Hamlet says that these actors "tear a passion to tatters, to very rags," and he would have them whipped for such overacting.

Hamlet then cautions the players against being too tame. The point of acting is "to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature." Some actors are so unskillful in doing this that they barely seem to be portraying human beings at all, "they imitated humanity so abominably." This makes Hamlet wonder what they are, since they cannot even imitate men.

Finally, Hamlet alludes to a common practice at the time—that of the comic actors abandoning the script and improvising their lines to try to draw additional laughter from the audience. This type of comic acting, Hamlet points out, sacrifices the overall meaning of the play to the vanity of an individual clown. It must also have been particularly irritating for Shakespeare as a playwright to have his lines discarded in this manner. Hamlet, therefore, wants the players to act simply and naturally and to stick to the script.

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