Hamlet is a scholar. Hamlet is a prince. Hamlet is supposed to be king. Hamlet is a bitter young man with a superiority complex and therefore switches over to speaking in free verse when addressing those he believes to be inferior to him. I notice he tends to adopt this type of speech when talking to Ophelia or addressing the players. I find this habit condescending of him, as though these characters aren’t worth the eloquent speech directed towards other characters, or the elaborate soliloquies only the audience has the privilege of experiencing. Ophelia is addressed as such because she is a woman of a slightly lower class, and the players are also of lower standing. Although they are addressed in a similar style of speech, Hamlet still speaks in a more respectful tone to the players than he does to Ophelia. Hamlet’s rudeness to Ophelia stems partially from his bitterness towards his mother. He mistrusts women because of how quickly his mother accepted the love of his uncle. When discussing the prologue of the Mousetrap play, Ophelia comments, “‘Tis brief, my lord,” to which Hamlet replies, “As woman’s love,” (3.2.137-138).
He reserves this language for giving the players commands and making obscene remarks at Ophelia; “Do you think I meant country matters?” (3.2.105). (Though I appreciate a good pun, I still think Hamlet deserves a slap in the face.) I feel that this manner of speaking is Hamlet’s way of exerting the power he does have, compensating for the fact that he doesn’t have all the power that is rightfully his. However, I also recognize that he is pretending to be slightly mad and that he must appear a certain way in front of different people. Only the audience is privy to his true feelings and intentions.