Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves.
Read on this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,
'Tis too much proved, that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.
O, 'tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burthen!
I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.
EXIT CLAUDIUS AND POLONIUS? OR DO THEY WITHDRAW TO BEHIND AN ARRAS?
Arras is a town in northern France famous for its tapestries. Its reputation for fine such artworks dates back at least to the 14th century, and indeed the reputation grew so great that the name of the town became synonymous with beautiful hanging tapestries. The image below is of Henry VIII in court - the hanging tapestry behind the throne is spectacular, and the curtains around it give a small sense of the distance between the tapestry and the wall behind - just enough room, perhaps, for someone to hide and eavesdrop...
Hamlet is a play full of asides, as characters turn to address the audience with their private thoughts. They are not reserved for Hamlet alone - Claudius and Polonius have some too. Eventually I will make a tall of all the asides in the play for reference.
A soliloquy is a dramatic device whereby a playwright has a character speak to themselves alone on stage. The word itself comes from Latin (solus, alone, and loquor, I speak...). Shakespeare's plays are filled with countless examples of the form, in comedy, history, and tragedy, and indeed the device has been popular from as far back as the writings of Montaigne (believed to have inspired Shakespeare). They are in continued use, all the way as far as contemporary versions of it like those in Netflix' House of Cards.
Dr. Farah Karim-Cooper has written an excellent book on cosmetics and Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama, and a revised edition is coming out in May of this year. There’s a whole chapter on Hamlet, and it’s a brilliant read.