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Hamlet's Frustration Essay

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Hamlet's Frustration

In order to understand Hamlet, we must understand his frustration. This frustration is most clear in his famous monologue, famously beginning with the line "Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I."

This self-condemnation is contrasted by his admiration for the actor of the previous scene, who "in a fiction" is able to "force his soul to his own conceit." The word "soul" is an example of metonymy, as the soul represents the actor's "visage," "tears," "distraction," and "voice." Thus Hamlet equates "soul" with one's actions, so by his own comparison his soul is weak, as he does not take action against the king. The second sentence is furthermore a rhetorical question, beginning with, "Is it notŠ" So clearly
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Instead of being "pregnant" Hamlet instead admits he can say "nothing." Ironically, the same word was used earlier to describe the actor's cause ("for nothing,/for Hecuba"). Hamlet thus feels completely impotent in his situation, like a "slave." He rhetorically asks himself, "Am I a coward?"

From cowardice, humiliation results, as Hamlet in his mind's eye is being taunted by Claudius, who is calling him a "villain." The word villain is especially ironic, since clearly Claudius is the villain, the murderer, and also since a villain is often meant to mean the antagonist of a play. Thus in a sense it is Hamlet who is the antagonist of the play, working against his noble instincts. Then Hamlet describes what Claudius does to him, metaphorically breaking his "pate across," and plucking out his "beard," to blow it in his "face."

These images of humiliation make one imagine a slave master belittling his slave or an abusive parent scolding his child. Then he decides he deserves this humiliation, saying "swounds, I should take it" since he is "pigeon-livered and lack[s] gall." This is in violent contrast to what Hamlet would do or "should" have done: "fatted all the region kites with the slave's offal," which is what Hamlet feels Claudius deserves. The word "slave" is ironic since this is what Hamlet feels he himself is, indicating that the roles
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