U3: Hamlet Act 2 Discussion Post

Olivia’s question: In the beginning of his soliloquy, Hamlet comments on the player and his ability to weep “for Hecuba.” What is the significance of Hamlet’s comments about the player?

My answer: At the beginning of his soliloquy, Hamlet says, “Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, a broken voice, and his whole function suiting with forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?” Here, Hamlet is referring to the player’s acting that he just witnessed and commenting about how the player was able to weep and show so much emotion for Hecuba, a character that he has no true connection to. Following this, Hamlet goes on to lament his frustration about how he cannot express emotion the same way that the player can, despite him having an actual reason to express such emotions (his father being murdered). This goes to show how hard Hamlet is on himself and how he often feels frustrated with what he lacks.

My question: What is the significance of the ongoing situation with Norway and their royal family, particularly young Fortinbras? Why does Shakespeare include this storyline?

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