Act Ii Of William Shakespeare

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Act Ii Of William Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet Essay, Research Paper In Act II of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet’s language and behaviour provide an apparent insight into his contrasting feelings of confidence and motivation, and anger and depression. Hamlet’s anger and depression are due to his previous inability to avenge his father’s murder and the corruption in the kingdom. The gradual increase in the intensity of these emotions comes through in the few instances in Act II where Hamlet appears to be conveying his emotions sincerely. Hamlet’s level of confidence and motivation seem to increase when he realises that he would have an opportunity to clear up the matter of Claudius’ guilt through the use of a play, and when he uses this uncertainty to

justify his previous lack of action and to regain his motivation. The strong culmination and apparent resolution of Hamlet’s conflicting emotions occurs in his only soliloquy, at the end of Act II. Hamlet’s sadness and anger at the corruption he sees in Denmark, early in the second scene, is the first glimpse the audience has of his apparently sincere emotions in Act II. He expresses these feelings to Rosencrantz and Guildernstern who appear to be the only people Hamlet is willing to be relatively open to. This may be because he has known them since childhood and he is aware of how to manipulate them not to reveal his feelings to anyone or undermine his plans. Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison. Rosencrantz: Then is the world one. Hamlet: A goodly one; in which there are many

confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’th’worst. (II.2.243-246) Hamlet views the world as a prison, in a very depressed manner, and Denmark as being the worst “confine” on earth. He may feel trapped as if in “a prison” because he is surrounded by people who are corrupt and dishonest, unlike him. He sees the King and Polonius as two corrupt and powerful men in the Royal Court and his depression leads him to view the world as a very corrupt and confining space. Hamlet’s depression intensifies as the second scene progresses due to his inability to avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet’s depression has now become more central to the issue of his state of mind and he again reveals his feelings to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet explains to the two men

why he had been acting strange: Hamlet: I have of late…lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises. And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory. (II.2.295-299) The striking image of “a sterile promontory”, a barren and unfertile high point of land jutting out into the sea, rather than an image of the fertile Danish countryside as representing the earth and nature emphasises the extent of Hamlet’s depression. Whereas previously in this scene Hamlet only mentioned society as corrupt, he now seems to believe that the earth has changed into something much more corrupt and impure. Hamlet has developed into being more depressed, and obsessed, about his inability to avenge his father. During the

despair Hamlet feels throughout Act II, there is one particular moment where his language suggests a gaining of motivation and composure. This occurs around the middle of the second scene where Hamlet is informed of the players coming to perform. His reaction suggests a lifting of spirits and motivation. Hamlet: What, are they children? Who maintains ‘em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no (II.2.344-346) longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards…? Hamlet, after his previous feelings of depression and anger now seems curious and this curiosity is highlighted by Shakespeare through Hamlet’s constant questioning. The focus of the play, as far as Hamlet’s state of mind is concerned, is briefly now on his newfound motivation. This motivation