The Importance of Playacting in Hamlet

In his powerful play, "Hamlet," William Shakespeare utilizes the theme of playacting as a medium through which Hamlet can make political statements, as well as shield himself in supposed madness. Hamlet uses plays to not only inform Claudius that someone knows his secret, but also as a way to maneuver through different situations, so that others may not know his intent. While many key figures in the play believe that Hamlet has gone mad, he in fact can be seen directly playing them into his hand. He places his characters, Claudius, Ophelia, Polonius, and Horatio, in the exact situations that he wants so that his play and his actions may reach the ultimate goal of revenge.

The primary target of all of Hamlet's playacting is Claudius. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet is unhappy with his Uncle's rule of Denmark and his mother's hasty marriage. Before the Ghost tells Hamlet who the murderer is, Hamlet states "Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge." (1, 5, 35-37) This pledge decides the fate of Claudius in the hands of Hamlet; however, Hamlet does not act in haste. He takes his time in plotting a trap for Claudius.


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