Rogue and Peasant Slave

(II.ii.535-595) by Abigail Go

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (II.ii.535)

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This image represents how Hamlet feels like a peasant compared to the actor. Hamlet describes the actor as full of passion and emotion, even though the actor is basing his emotion on just his imagination, whereas Hamlet is not able to do so. He demonstrates his admiration for the actor and how he wishes to be able to show and act on his passion for his dead father.

What's Hecuba to him, or he to her,/ That he should weep for her? (II.ii.544-545)

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This is an image of Hecuba, who was the queen of Troy. In Hamlet, the First Player says that, when her husband died, Hecuba had tears and "Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven/ And passion in the gods" (II.ii.505-506). She seems to be greatly affected by her husband's death. This shows contrast between Hecuba and Gertrude, who married Old Hamlet's brother within two months of his death. Gertrude does not show as much mourning for her husband as much as Hecuba, which is why Hamlet is surprised at the amount of passion the actor has, even if the actor is just using his imagination to bring out his emotions whereas Gertrude, who is in the same situation does not show any emotion.

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak/ Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,/ And can say nothing (II.ii.553-555)

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The image shows a person whose head is in the clouds; someone who focuses on thoughts rather than action. Hamlet refers to himself as dull-spirited and someone who mopes around. Instead of taking action, he decides to focus on the bad things happening to him. He also calls himself a "John-of-Dreams" (II.ii.534), meaning a dreamer. He is, again, criticizing himself and how he concentrates on his imagination and voicing his thoughts, rather than doing something about it, demonstrating the theme of action vs. inaction.

Am I a coward?/ Who calls me 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 as to the lungs - Who does me this? (II.ii. 556-561)

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Hamlet questions himself because of his inner struggle and indecisiveness about killing Claudius, which is represented by the image of a tug-of-war above. "Breaks my pate across", "plucks off my bear and blows it in my face", "tweaks me by the nose", and the other lines all considered to be insults, therefore demonstrating that he is disappointed in himself and wants to be punished for not taking action against Claudius. This shows Hamlet's self doubt and anger towards himself.

The spirit that I have seen/ May be a devil, and the devil hath power/ T'assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps,/ Out of my weakness and my melancholy,/ As he is very potent with such spirits,/ Abuses to damn me (II.ii.585-590)

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This image represents melancholy and the fog represents ambiguity. Hamlet says that the ghost could be lying to lead him into his own demise, since sadness causes vulnerability. This shows that Hamlet has doubt in the ghost, which could mean that Hamlet is not completely insane, as if he were, he would not have much logic. The ambiguity refers to how it is not known whether Hamlet is acting insane or is actually insane. However, due to this quote, one could argue that Hamlet is indeed, acting.

The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king (II.ii.591-592)

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The image represents Hamlet watching over the King, Claudius on a stage. As the last lines of his soliloquy, Hamlet decides to start taking action against Claudius and to begin by confirming his suspicions by seeing if Claudius shows guilt while watching the play. This also shows that, as the soliloquy goes on, Hamlet finds his passion and willingness to take action. He goes from inaction to action. Since the play is called "Mousetrap", it is like Hamlet is trapping Claudius into his own downfall, therefore beginning his revenge against Claudius.