Thou pray’st not well.

There is something ticking away under this play. Something about prayer and hypocrisy – true prayer, effective prayer.
I can’t immediately think of another scene in Shakespeare like the one Claudius has. The struggle to pray, the question of whether to slay someone praying, the irony that the prayers were not so much prayers as the performance of prayers.

Who else do we see pray in Shakespeare?
Imogen – before she goes to bed.
Juliet – before she takes the potion.
But no one else evaluates the quality of prayer like Claudius – which is why it’s interesting that Hamlet says this seemingly unrelated line to all of that to Laertes….but maybe not.


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