Henry IV Part 1

The Inseparability of Acting and Ruling: An Analysis of Hamlet and The First Part of Henry the Fourth

Within Hamlet and 1 Henry the Fourth are examples of Shakespeare including the trade of acting within the text as a central theme. Hamlet certainly shows us his skill as an actor throughout the play, but there is a more blatant preference to acting in the scene where Hamlet stages the death of his father in front of King Claudius. In 1 Henry the Fourth, the signs of Shakespeare's opinion of acting and ruling as inseparable things is more ordinary and yet more substantial. The signs are more ordinary because Hal doesn't go so far as to put on a play within the play. But the signs are more substantial because each and every scene that Hal appears in demonstrates the skill of acting applied to everyday situations. Hamlet and Hal both share two common traits: they are both princes and they both employ acting as a means to achieving their desires. I think that Shakespeare makes a profound statement about rulers and players. Both rulers and players have the difficult task of convincing their observers that they are other than they are. Because of this relationship between players and rulers the roles are often intermingled, for instance, rulers often perform like players and players often portray the part of rulers....

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