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Hamlet Act II Close Reading

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William Shakespeare uses many types of literary devices to describe the very principle of Hamlet’s true battle. Hamlet compares himself to a “peasant slave” and to the talented actor, whom could give a convincing performance without feeling the true emotion. After his visit with the ghost (his supposed father), he has been dedicated to the idea of plotting revenge of his uncle-father.

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Although, it is difficult for Hamlet to perform this horrific act, because of his disgust of the emotionless scheming revenge.

Lastly, for Hamlet to try and convince himself to follow through with this scheme, he arranges a trap to have Claudius unknowingly reveal that he is guilty. In the beginning of Hamlet’s soliloquy, he compares himself to a “rogue and peasant slave”, which points out that Hamlet is frustrated with himself. In this metaphor, Hamlet feels terrible that the actor could shed more emotion, and force his soul to feel made up feelings in a work of make-believe.

The use of visual imagery is used when Hamlet describes his acting, “That from her working all his visage waned, tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, a broken voice, and his whole function suiting…” Here Hamlet is amazed by how easily the actor could show such emotion, and he even says “what would he do, had he the motive and the cue for passion that I have? ” He knows that actor would be even more tremendous if that was the case, because the use of a hyperbole is noted when he says, “He would drown the stage with tears and cleave the general ear with horrid speech. After stating the above facts, Hamlet then looks at himself and sees himself as pathetic.

His reflection of himself, describes that he is an unattractive, uncourageous mischief and protests that he primarily just mopes around and has no motivation to plot revenge and doubts his ability to achieve it. Another literary device utilized is the rhetorical questions he asks himself, “Am I a coward? Who calls me a “villain”? Breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie I’ th’ throat as deep to the lungs? Again doubting himself for his lack of motivation. A bit of foreshadowing also takes place after these questions, when he asks another rhetorical question, “who does me this? ‘Swounds, I should take it…” which could possibly take place later on in the play, that someone will call him out, and there is only one reason why someone would; his revenge on Claudius. Hamlet creates a conflict with himself deciding whether to go or not to go through with this horrific scheme, but he reminds himself that his father’s life has been stolen so he must seek his revenge.

Hamlet is planning to have the “players play something like the murder of [his] father before [his] uncle” that he can “observe his [his uncle’s] looks” to judge his guilt. Hamlet concludes to himself that “[he] know [his course]” of what to do if his uncle “do blench” or flinch. Shakespeare uses personification on the word murder, for he states that “murder, though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ”, referring to the situation of murder being able to speak through the actors.

This is significant because it is a step forward towards Hamlet’s plot of revenge. Although, Hamlet may believe that “the spirit that [he] have seen may be the devil and devil hath power t’assume a pleasing shape”, this symbolizes the use of hell imagery and portrays the theme eye of the beholder. The devil can be very convincing and can disguise itself as something or someone we desire and enjoy. So, with that being said Hamlet concludes that “[he’ll] have grounds more relative than this. The play’s the thing wherein [he’ll] catch the conscience of the king. ”