Another image-pattern reflecting the way in which the Danish court is full of deceit is that of entrapment:

  • Early in the play (Act I scene iii) Laertes suggests to Ophelia that she could be within the range of Hamlet's seduction —

    ‘the shot and danger of desire'
  • Polonius introduces a more specific image of bird-catching: Hamlet's words of love to her areBird trap

    ‘springes to catch woodcocks'
  • Laertes uses the same image as he dies — he has been caught in his own trap,

    ‘as a woodcock to mine own springe'
  • Birds were also caught by smearing a sticky ‘lime' on branches, and in Act III scene iii Claudius feels that he becomes more entangled and entrapped in sin as he tries to escape its consequences:

    ‘limed soul, that, struggling to be free, / Art more engaged!'
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are also caught in a trap (the letter to England) set for Hamlet, and, using the image of a bomb-maker blown up by his own hidden mine, he rejoices to find

    ‘the engineer hoist with his own petard'
  • Although the play which the travelling players perform is originally called ‘The Murder of Gonzago', Hamlet calls it ‘The Mousetrap' — a trap by which Hamlet will

    ‘catch the conscience of the King'.
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