To begin with, the extract shows Hamlets gradual increase in anxiety through his vicious words aimed toward himself when he entitles himself as a “rogue” and “peasant slave” at the beginning of the extract, showing what little positive remarks he has for his persona and purpose in life.
Shakespeare also portrays Hamlet as a rather mentally-unstable, infuriated, frenetic character as the opening of the extract reveals that, throughout Hamlets distressing speech; he is “alone”, therefore talking to himself in a peculiar manner.
Shakespeare then decreases the level of negativity when the reader is drawn to the rhetorical questions posed by Hamlet. “What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue for passion that I have?” Readers will automatically label Hamlet as a scheming character for his unneeded observation.
Hamlet’s insanity act backfires unintentionally when Hamlet had planned to act preposterous in order for Claudius to believe he is insane. However everyone apart from Claudius falls for it. Eventually Hamlet plays the insanity role so well that he unexpectedly convinces himself that he is insane!
“Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s 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?” These questions paraphrased mean;
Isn’t it unfair that this actor, pretending to feel such passion could force himself to believe the part that he is playing, so much so that his body adapts itself to suit his acting needs, so that he grows to be disturbed, disconcerted and distressed. Why does he pretend until he truly makes himself weep? For Hecuba!
Shakespeare has then portrayed Hamlet as a hypocrite and a talented actor rather than an irate, scheming, immoral character as some would decide.
Further throughout the extract is a repeat of more rhetorical questions, emphasising Hamlet’s attention seeking act to prevent suspicion. He questions himself and his surroundings, “Am I a Coward? Who calls me a villain? Breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard and throws it in my face? Tweaks me by my nose? Who does this to me?” The questions, although they seem unanswered, are actually answered from observing Hamlet’s extremely odd and restless behaviour.
The questions show how he is unsure of the situation and he obviously can’t accept the fact of the matter, Instead of becoming calm of the events that previously occurred involving the death of his father as being calm could decrease the likely hood of him being suspected of murder. However, Hamlet decides to go to the extremes of acting like a mentally unstable man (which he could well be) but Hamlet over exaggerates the act) to eliminate suspicion.
Examples of Hamlet’s over exaggeration and over reacting occurs throughout the play as he observes and actor in a role which is his reality, his behaviour alters from words such as ” dull” and “muddy-mettled”, which are not so compelling words. However his vocabulary increases with aggression and intensity to “kind-less villain”, “bitter”, “abuse”, “murder”, “cunning”, “struck”, “revenge”, “hell”, “treacherous.”
Shakespeare also portrays parts of Hamlet’s jealous side when Hamlet analyses an actor acting “with forms to his conceit? All for nothing! For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him?” He complains that this actor is just pretending to be mad with sadness over his problems, whereas, he has real problems and doesn’t need to put on an act. Yet further throughout the extract Hamlet defeats the point and becomes hypocritical when he begins to act mad himself.
Perhaps the lecture to himself early on, was a form of positive criticism and was his insecure way of actually trying to say he is fond of Hecuba’s role. Therefore, psychologically, Hamlet undecidedly copied the mad upset role of Hecuba.
Overall, Shakespeare’s portrayal of Hamlet in writing is not clear until studied. Just reading the play script from the basic surface of the play, will lead the reader to believe that Hamlet is scheming, conniving, and evil. On the other hand, inside the play Hamlet himself discovers an acting talent and he convinces himself what he has been trying to convince others for a long time. Shakespeare also uses a play in a play method which almost makes the reader feel as if they are Hamlet watching a play. All these techniques are effective to the portrayal of Hamlet.