| Quote #1
When Gertrude asks Hamlet why he "seems" to be taking the death of his father so personally, he responds that no outward behavior on his part (wearing an "inky cloak," sighing, shedding tears, and so on) can "show" what he truly feels inside. If the "trappings" of grief are like a theatrical performance, as Hamlet suggests here, then performance is ultimately ineffective – an actor could never truly capture the kind of anguish Hamlet feels inside. Of course, this inevitably draws our attention to the fact that Hamlet's lines are being spoken by a stage actor, which makes the entire passage seem self-conscious. Just how powerful is performance? Is it possible for an actor to reproduce a feeling like grief in a realistic way?
| Quote #2
When Hamlet warns his friends that he's going to "put an antic disposition on," he's literally referring to a "clown" or a performer who plays the role of a "grotesque." That means he gets verbal freedom. Like the fool, he can say whatever he wants without getting in trouble. No one holds a crazy man responsible, right?
| Quote #3
Time for Shakespeare to get in a little contemporary dig at the fashion for children's acting companies, which posed a pretty significant threat to adult theater groups. Rosencrantz calls child actors "eyases" (young hawks), suggesting that these kid actors were threatening the livelihood of the adults. (Just wait ten years, guys: they'll be racking up DUIs and checking into rehab, like all child stars.)