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Home » , » Significance Of the play within a play in Shakespeare's Hamlet
Play within a play is a very short play acted in a play for developing or revealing something hidden. "The Murder of Gonzago" is the play within a play in Hamlet. It is very significant in this play because it contributes to the development of action. In Act ll, Scene II, Hamlet conceives the plan of staging a play called "The Murder of Gonzago". He invites the King and the Queen to enjoy it. His motive in staging it is to seek a verification of the story of his father's murder as narrated to him by the Ghost. He does not want to act only upon the Ghost's words without any concrete proof.
play within a play in hamlet
Hamlet wants to stage a play containing a scene in which a villain will murder his brother and marry the widow of his dead brother. According to Hamlet, Claudius' reaction after seeing this scene will reveal whether he is actually a murderer or not. If Claudius is the murderer of the old king, then he must be upset to see the play. Hamlet says- 

"The play's the thingWherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."
in Act III, Scene II, Hamlet seeks the assistance of Horatio whom he had already taken into confidence regarding the secret that was revealed to him by the Ghost. Hamlet asks Horatio to watch the King's face in the course of the performance of the play, "The Murder of Gonzago". in the play-scene of The Murder of Gonzago" Hamlet  sits at Ophelia's feet rather than close to the Queen. At first, there is a dumb-show. The story of the dumb-show closely corresponds to the story told by the Ghost. It shows a loving king making love with his queen. When the queen is asleep, the queen departs. Another man comes and pours poison in the eyes of the sleeping king. The kind dies. Afterwards, the man proposes the queen who almost readily accepts his love. However, the dumb show does not perturb the king.

After the dumb-show the actual play is staged. There is a long conversation between the Player King and the Player Queen. The Player King says that after his death the Queen shall have second husband. But the Queen asserts that she will remain a widow. After the departure of the Player Queen, the King's nephew Lucianus enters and pours poison into the ears of the sleeping King, namely Gonzago. Thus Claudius watches for the second time the staging of his crime. He suspects that the speech of Lucianus is written by Hamlet himself. Claudius rises from his seat, calls for light and leaves the scene. Observing Claudius' reaction to the play,now Hamlet is sure that he is the murderer of his father. Now he wants to take revenge upon Claudius.

To sum up, we may say that the significance of the play within a play in Hamlet is really praiseworthy. It contributes to the development of action. It is used as a trap to catch the criminal. By this play, Hamlet is able to select the original murderer of his father.
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