"He that plays the king..."

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"He that plays the king shall be welcome. His majesty shall have tribute of me..."etc What does this little speech mean?

-- Patrick Walker (www.criesandwhispers666@yahoo.com), November 16, 2002


Superficially, exactly what it says. Reading between the lines, like so many of Hamlet's bites of dialogue, it's could be meant to be a bit more chewy. But this time I don't think so. This time I think Hamlet is speaking frankly, giving us a brief glimpse of the fun-loving prince he used to be. These actors have travelled to Elsinore, in the North of Denmark, all the way from Wittenberg, Germany, to play for him. Hamlet loves plays and acting, and for a brief space of time he has been surprised into forgetting his troubles and problems. I think this speech is the sunlight peeping throuh the clouds. Yet this, of course, does belie what he has just been saying to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: clearly some aspects of the life and activities of man do still delight him. So we are advised that - probably intentionally - Hamlet was not speaking the whole exact truth to them.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), November 17, 2002.

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