Saturday, March 2, 2013

In what ways is Act III Scene ii one of the key scenes in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”?

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In Shakespeare’s plays, there are many important scenes. In “Hamlet” one of the most important is Act III scene ii. This could be because it is a “key” scene in the fact that in unlocks a path for which the rest of the play will follow course. Or that it is a “key” scene because of its content, like the fact that it contains a play-within-a-play ect.

In my essay, I will discuss both of the point stated.

The main point of this scene is to see whether the Ghost seen in Act I Scene ii is telling the truth, or, if he is just an evil spirit, taking the form of Hamlet.

In this scene hamlet uses the play as a device with which to see if Claudius is guilty of murdering his father if not. He has the players act a scene like the ghosts account of how he was murdered. He and Horatio observe Claudius’s reaction to the play and see if he reacts to it. We can tell that Hamlet thinks that he will react because he says

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“…I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play have by the very cunning

of the scene been struck to the sole, that presently they have proclaimed their maletacions”

but there are also many differences between the “play-within-the-play” and what hamlet is told by the Ghost. Hamlet cannot have the actors play out the exactly what was said, because or else Claudius will know that Hamlet knows that he murdered his own brother, and that Hamlet wants to kill him.

One of the differences is that the prisoner, Lucianus, is not actually the kings brother, nut his nephew. The prisoner also “woos the Queen with gifts”; this does not happen in the play. The Queen also seems harsh to the idea of marring again, but in actual fact, she does not.

When Claudius is watching the play, the reacts to the scene when the Player King (sleeping in his orchard) Is poisoned by his nephew, just as hamlet had planned. Claudius starts calling for “Light” This could have many different meanings, “Light” could mean goodness or forgiveness, and he is seen in the next scene to be praying for forgiveness. Hamlet is delighted that his plan has worked, and that Claudius has revealed his guilt.

Hamlet asks if the king is frightened by “false fire”, this could be like false fire in a gun, when there is no gunpowder (he is afraid of nothing).

At the start of this scene, Shakespeare gives advice to actors though Hamlet. We know this because the lines 1 to 6 were added to the play in a later edition. These likes also do not add to any of the plot.

Fellow playwrights of Shakespeare would have witnessed the play. He then states what the problems with acting are. These problems

The Problems of acting in Shakespeare’s day

There were many problems in the standard of acting in Shakespeare’s day. This

can be deduced by the extra lines that were added in Act III Scene ii lines


People who used to act in plays at the time often shouted (as to be heard over

the talking and noise of the crowd). Shakespeare says that town crier might as

well act the plays, as they would be just as loud.

The actors also over did (over played) emotion, and that they weren’t being

natural in the way that they acted, they weren’t “Portraying nature” because no

one naturally.

In this scene, Hamlet reacts with many of the other characters in the play. It shows that he is a very witty character, always resorting to puns.

We can tell a lot bout how the stage was set up, and how theatre parts were played. Limelights were used to light the stage form below. When hamlet says “what, frightened by false fire?”, false fire also refers to the “false fire” used to light the stage.

The fact that Shakespeare used original stories to base his plays on is also shown in this scene. Hamlet uses an earlier story to write his playa.

This scene also introduces a vicious circle to the play. Hamlet (wants to kill) Claudius (who tells) Leurties (to kill) Hamlet ect. This is a truing point in the play, where it is sent in a different direction than the audience think.

It is rare to have a dumb show, or play-within-a-play, within a play, and Hamlet is one of two Shakespeare plays which has one, the other one being A mid summers night dream. It is an important part of this scene because it is the only time within the entire play that we see the murder, after all, this is a play about murder. Before all we knew about the murder was what the Ghost tells Hamlet. It is one of the few examples what a dumb show was like during Shakespeare’s time.

The dumb show was shown before the play to introduce it, like a program is used today. It was used to make people understand the main concept of the play.

During lines 46 to 64, Hamlet talks to Horatio about them being friends, and then, on line 64, says

“Something too much of this”

He says it like it is not a manly thing to be talking about. So men did not play sentimental parts on stage.

After the play has taken place, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz call Hamlet to his mother. He then accuses both of them of lying to him. They deny this, but know that they are. Hamlet says that lying is as easy as playing a flute. He then shows this to the audience by playing with Polonius, asking if he can see the cloud shapes in the sky, which obviously do not look like anything, and then changing his mind. Polonius then agrees with everything that he is told.

Hamlets soliloquy is used in communicating his current emotional state to the audience because it reveals the true nature of Hamlets feelings; not only through the diction but also through the imagery, language and underlying messages of the text. It successfully highlights the divisions of character of Hamlet whilst aiding the audience in building a connection with him.

The play dealt with contemporary issues at the time. The question of who would succeed Elizabeth the Ist was an important one at the time. The play deals with the murder of a king, which would have been shaking to the audience because of its subject, a king was appointed by God, and if he was killed, it would be like disobeying God.

In he play, when all of the royal family is dead, Fortinbras claims the throne and becomes king of Denmark, Fortinbras is a prince form Norway.

“..with sorrow I embrace my fortune. I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.”

This, in Shakespearian times, would have been the happy ending to the play. The throne was taken over by someone with royal blood, who had been appointed by God.

One of the most important, or key, scenes in the play “Hamlet” is Act II Scene ii. This is because of many reasons. It changes the course that the play takes because of the fact that Hamlet now knows that the Ghost seen in Act I Scene ii is telling the truth. He will then try and kill Claudius. It is also important because it revels a lot about how the art of acting was conducted in Shakespeare’s time.

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