What is the purpose of the Hecuba speech in the play Hamlet?

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This speech in Hamlet is spoken, of course, by Hamlet after the Player King has delivered his moving monologue about Hecuba.  Thisis an ancient tale, and, while it'sa tragic story, the characters and events of this story are nothing personal to the actor.  Still, the Player King is moved to tears as he tells the story.  Hamlet's speech which follows is generally known as the "rogue and peasant slave" soliloquy. In it, Hamlet has two key themes.  First, he berates himself for his comparative lack of emotion even for a just and personal cause and is amazed at the actor's ability to create such emotion for something totally disconnected from his life.  He says:

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
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
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 986 words.)

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