My main reaction to Hamlet in these scenes is that he has a very changeable character. He treats different people in different ways, depending on whether he thinks they are plotting against him or not. But also his moods change from one extreme to the other, especially with Ophelia. In one extreme he will be declaring love for her and the next he will be saying that he never loved her. This is possibly to play up to his madness. This gives the effect that Hamlet is not a very good mannered person, which we know he isn’t because as the audience we know he’s plotting to kill the king.
But the characters in the play don’t know that, they think he is genuinely mad. He treats Horatio with some respect throughout the play and this can be seen in these two scenes. He has no respect for the king, which is understandable, as he was his fathers’ murderer. Hamlet is a very emotional play as Laertes and Hamlet are all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers. They all want revenge for a slaughtered father. The beginning of Act III scene ii presents Hamlet as a planner.
He plans the play carefully and this is shown by his instructions to the players, he wants the play to have the right affect on the King. ; ‘Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you,trippingly on the tongue. ‘ He wants every detail correct for the right affect. He wants the play to reflect the past, this also shows that Hamlet is clever, being indirect by telling the king he knows of his fathers’ murder. He wants to touch the kings’ conscience. Making him think about what he has done and the consequences of his actions.
He says; ‘The purpose of the playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature. When Hamlet is talking to the players he speaks in prose, which suggests some informality, and that Hamlet gets on with the players, but he also has some authority over them. The play is also a chance to test the reliability of the ghost, this comes from historical context here because in Hamlets time people worried about ghosts as a reliable source of evidence, where they from heaven or hell?
Hamlet is pleased with the play within the play he uses rhyming to show his happiness when talking to Horatio on P 207; ‘O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive? ‘ This shows that Hamlet is pleased with the play and the play has served its purpose and proved the reliability of the ghost. This part of the play shows Hamlet as excitable, by using rhyming it makes him sound out of breath and speeds up his speech, it also shows his careful planning to detail in the play paid off.
The will also have had an affect on the audience, when the king gets up they will not know why, they will be wondering what the dramatic exit of the king means, it may also change their opinion of the king, they may realize he is an angry mysterious character. Hamlet talks at the end of scene ii to himself, this brings out the evil side of Hamlet, it suggests that he is capable of evil. Shakespeare uses supernatural imagery to suggest Hamlets’ evil side; When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.
Now could I drink hot blood, and do such bitter business, as the day would quake to look on. O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever the soul of Nero enter this firm bosom Let me be cruel, not unnatural. The king now knows that Hamlet knows what happens to his father and he is in danger of losing his position as king and his wife. The king begs for Gods forgiveness at the beginning of scene iii, which shows feelings of guilt, but also fear as the king does not know what will happen to him. Hamlet enters while the king is on his knees praying, he has the chance to kill the king now;
Now might I do it pat, now ‘a is a-praying But Hamlet is worried that if he kills him while he is in prayer he will go to heaven and Hamlet wants the king to suffer and also feels that he will be betraying his father; And now I’ll do’t – and so ‘a goes to heaven and so am I reveng’d. That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. This shows that Hamlet is thoughtful and want to kill the king so that it has the right affect and he wants the king to suffer as much as possible.
Hamlets soliloquy gives a dramatic effect to the play, it makes it seem eerie and evil, but also shows some irony because the audience knows that the king plans to send Hamlet away. This affects our response to Hamlet by making him seem cowardly and not the brave planner who organised the play. These scenes present Hamlet as quite clever and thoughtful and he doesn’t like to rush into things, this presents him in the play as been quite old, but I think he is actually supposed to be quite young as the life span in Shakespeare’s time was a lot shorter than it is now.
If I was to choose the age for Hamlet I would present him as a young adult around 18 because some of the scenes in this play present him as been quite young but he is also quite mature. The main reaction to Hamlet throughout the whole play is his changeability as a character , you can see who he likes or respects by the way he treats them. He is suspicious of people and thinks people are plotting against him. I think the play shows Hamlet as quite a lonely person because he has lost his father, we don’t know if he loves Ophelia or not and he does not appear to trust anyone except Horatio.