Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

[…] O'erstep not he modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of time his form and pressure. (3.2.1)

Hamlet wants the player's performance to be authentic, as though it were holding a "mirror up to nature." This idea about theater being a kind of "mirror" also seems to be in keeping with Hamlet's belief that the play will reflect King Claudius's guilt. And it does. So what kind of emotions is Hamlet reflecting back to us?

Quote #8

HAMLET
Madam, how like you this play?

QUEEN GERTRUDE
The lady protests too much, methinks.

HAMLET
O, but she'll keep her word.
(3.2.227)

Dude, Hamlet, lay off your mom. At this point in the action, the Player Queen has professed over and over again that she will not remarry after her husband, the Player King, dies. Gertrude says here that the character "protests too much" and Hamlet, as usual, finds a way too insult his mother. The faithful Player Queen, he insists, will "keep her word," unlike Gertrude, who Hamlet sees as unfaithful and adulterous. In this case, life definitely doesn't imitate art.

Quote #9

HAMLET
He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

OPHELIA
The king rises.
(3.2.22)

Veeeery interesting. Claudius looks pretty guilty when he gets up and leaves the room after he sees the on-stage poisoning. Looks like there's something to Hamlet's theory of theater, after all.

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