The play within the play in Hamlet


The tragedy “Hamlet” is not only famous but also the largest play of William Shakespeare (1564-1616). It reveals a new kind of literary device by which the hero of the drama, Hamlet conforms about his father’s murder and the audience understands the governing theme of the drama. The term play-within-play has a great contribution to the development of the upcoming plot of the drama. Let’s see below logically. 

More Notes: Hamlet

The purpose of the play within the play 

Shakespeare’s purpose is to set up a play within the play named “The Murderer of Gonzago” by which he has been broadening the plot of the drama. It is worked as a way of his excellence and intelligence. Throughout this new term, Shakespeare inaugurated a new technique play- within- play it enriched his drama. 

To develop the upcoming plot of the play 

To be informed by the ghost of Old Hamlet, Hamlet wanted to get clarification about the murder. So, he decides to arrange a play within the play name “The murder of Gonzago”. This term play within the play has a great contribution in developing the next plot of the drama “Hamlet”. Throughout this dramatic style, the plot of the drama has reached its proper way of revenge. So, it can be said that the play within the play has enlarged the plot of the drama. 

The conformation about the murder 

Hamlet was not a conventional hero of a revenge tragedy so he had fallen in doubt of the ghost’s message about the death of Hamlet’s father. To remove this confusion he decided to arrange a play named “The Murder of Gonzago”. The scripture has been written by Hamlet himself for being confirmed the death of his father. During the play, Hamlet tells Horatio to notice Claudius’ behavior. And Claudius’s reaction is proved that he was the real murderer of Old Hamlet. So it can be said that the play within the play is a confirmation scene of the entire drama. 

More Notes: Suggestions

The actual play 

The tragedy of Hamlet is based on the central theme of the drama Murder of Old Hamlet. But the actual play was the play within the play named “The Murder of Gonzago”. This play has helped Hamlet to reach his destination. The Queen also embraced to see the play “The Murder of Gonzago”. Hamlet’s proved that it was the actual drama of Hamlet. 

Thats wormwood, wormwood.. 

If she should break it now! 

O but she’ll keep her word 

Showing Hamlets judgmental power 

 The technique of play within play shows the judging power of Hamlet. It is not only Hamlet but also the audience can get clear information that Claudius is the real murderer of King Hamlet. From the moment of detecting the deceased king’s assassinator, the plot of the tragedy starkly turns to revenge and hatred. 

Showing Shakespeares acting technique 

Shakespeare is an extraordinary genius in the history of English literature and is unique in style and his own acting technique. Each of his plays has introduced a new kind of style such as supernatural elements, tragicomic elements, and so on. Like these, the play “Hamlet” play within the play has introduced to the audience Shakespeare’s play-acting excellence. To establish this technique the playwright has given utmost interest to the hero. So, it can be called that play within is not only a method of Hamlet himself but also a method of Shakespeare to make his tragedy praiseworthy 


Last, of all, we can say that the technique namely ‘play within a play’ by Shakespeare is evergreen and it makes the story moving and life-like. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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