The most important line in Hamletis, “The play’s the thing,
wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” (II, ii, 617).In the
play, the issue of a clear conscience forms a key motif.When the
conscience of the characters appears, it does so as a result of some
action; as in the case of the aforementioned line, which follows Hamlet’s
conversation with the player.This line is of particular significance
because it ties action and its effect on the conscience of the characters.
The nature of Hamlet is conscience, and action plays an important role in
creating the development of the plot.No where is this development seen
clearer than with Hamlet.The Prince’s development comes as a result of
the self-evaluation of the actions that have taken place, and the ensuing
actions that he takes are a clear result of this self-evaluation.So, in
essence, the actions cause him to think of his conscience and then act
upon these feelings.Hamlet’s several soliloquies are a testament to this
method.Hisfirst soliloquy, following a conversation with his recently
wed mother and uncle reflect the uneasiness he feels.He feels betrayed.
“O, most wicked speed, to post, with such dexterity to incestuous sheets.
. . but break my heart, for I must hold my tounge.” (I, ii, 156-159).
Hamlet’s conscience tells him what is wrong-in this case, the hasty
marriage-but he is ambivalent as to how to approach it; before he meets
the ghost, silence is his method.When Hamlet meets his father’s ghost
however, he feels sure of himself, and knows what he must do.As a result
of the dialogue with the ghost, Hamlet’s conscience makes him feel that
revenge is the best method to deal with the problems that face him.The
consciences of Hamlet, and to a lesser extent, Claudius, affect their
decisions in the play.However, both characters only question themselves
after they have been prompted by some spec…


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