An Analysis of Hamlet's Soliloquies

Original Text: An Analysis of Hamlet's Soliloquies


A soliloquy is dramatic discourse spoken by a character that is alone on stage and oblivious to the listeners present. William Shakespeare heavily utilizes soliloquies in Hamlet in order to give the audience an honest view of Hamlet?s true feelings. The soliloquies work as vehicles for his character development by focusing on the issues that most distress him. Hamlet?s soliloquies portray him as a contemplative man and express his pessimistic view of life. They convey his disappointment in himself and illustrate his problem of procrastination in avenging his father?s death. Most of all, they mark the movement from his inability to overcome his scholarly nature to his final resolution to becoming an avenger.
Hamlet?s first soliloquy provides the foundation for Hamlet?s inner turmoil and views of life. In it, Hamlet reveals the first true insight into his contemplative nature after he suppresses passionate feelings when he is first seen conversing with Claudius and Gertrude. By beginning his speech with ?O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew?, Hamlet establishes his desire to disappear through death, expressing the gravity of his innermost grief that he had been holding back earlier in the scene (1.2.133-134). Newell exemplifies this idea when he says, ?The speech is about the cause of the pain and the depression. The reference to suicide seems to be governed ? by a profound need to articulate a terrible sense of himself as befouled, betrayed and disillusioned?? (33). Thus, because Hamlet holds in his great misery from his mother and uncle, he allows his depression to remain in his mind and escalate to a level of unhealthiness, only seeing his escape in death. He discloses his negative view of the world by equating it to an ?unweeded garden?, signifying corruption, and describing decay through words such as ?rank? and ?gross?. Lastly, he expresses his disgust over his mother?s hasty remarriage to his uncle after his father?s death, denouncing womanhood and juxtaposing Claudius?s inferiority to his father?s greatness in the images of a Hyperion to a satyr. These opposing pictures not only illustrate Hamlet?s idealization of his father, but also his level of intellect. In this way, Hamlet?s first soliloquy serves to characterize Hamlet as a reflective, depressed and learned man.
Hamlet?s ?O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!? soliloquy serves to reveal the root of Hamlet?s true conflict: his inability to act. By juxtaposing a player, who ?could force his soul so to his own conceit? to weep for Hecuba without any apparent reason, against him, who has the ?motive and cue for passion? but cannot do anything ?for a king upon whose property and most dear life a damned defeat was made?, Hamlet makes himself aware of and is disappointed by his inadequacy in taking revenge for his father?s murder (2.2.580; 596-598). Moreover, by questioning his cowardice in the proceeding lines, Hamlet showcases his problem of procrastination in carrying out the murder of Claudius even though he knows he is capable of doing so. Newell affirms this when he says, ?Hamlet's sense of himself as a coward is derived from a crude, simplistic judgment turning on whether or not he has yet taken any action against the man who murdered his father? (61). Because Hamlet?s calculating, intellectual nature causes him to waste time in carrying out his father?s will with ?wings as swift of meditative action?, he delays the action and further troubles himself with the deed. In this way, the soliloquy functions as a window to Hamlet?s fears and passive action.
Hamlet?s ?To be or not to be? soliloquy exposes his true intellectual nature through his inner debate about life and death. Because Hamlet is neither expecting nor responding to any action in this scene, he exudes an authentic, candid light into his reflective personality without any interruption.

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Revised Text:

A soliloquy is a dramatic discourse spoken by a character that is alone on stage and oblivious to the listeners present. William Shakespeare heavily utilizes soliloquies in Hamlet in order to give the audience an honest view of Hamlet's true feelings. The soliloquies work as vehicles for his character development by focusing on the issues that most distress him.

Hamlet's soliloquies portray him as a contemplative man and express his pessimistic view of life. They convey his disappointment in himself and illustrate his problem of procrastination in avenging his father's death. Most of all, they mark the movement from his inability to overcome his scholarly nature to his final resolution to become an avenger.

Hamlet's first soliloquy provides the foundation for Hamlet's inner turmoil and views of life. In it, Hamlet reveals the first true insight into his contemplative nature after he suppresses passionate feelings when he is first seen conversing with Claudius and Gertrude. By beginning his speech with "O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew". Hamlet establishes his desire to disappear through death, expressing the gravity of his innermost grief that he had been holding back earlier in the scene (1.2.133-134). Newell exemplifies this idea when he says, "The speech is about the cause of the pain and the depression. The reference to suicide seems to be governed by a profound need to articulate a terrible sense of himself as befouled, betrayed and disillusioned" (33). Thus, because Hamlet conceals his great misery from his mother and uncle, he allows his depression to remain in his mind and escalate to a level of unhealthiness, seeing his escape only in death. He discloses his negative view of the world by equating it to an "unweeded garden", signifying corruption, and describing decay through words such as "rank" and "gross".

Lastly, he expresses his disgust over his mother"s hasty remarriage to his uncle after his father's death, denouncing womanhood and juxtaposing Claudius's inferiority to his father's greatness in the image of a Hyperion to a satyr. These opposing pictures not only illustrate Hamlet's idealization of his father, but also his level of intellect. In this way, Hamlet's first soliloquy serves to characterize him as a reflective, depressed and learned man.

Hamlet's "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!" soliloquy serves to reveal the root of his true conflict: his inability to act. By juxtaposing a player, who "could force his soul so to his own conceit, to weep for Hecuba without any apparent reason, against him, who has the motive and cue for passion but cannot do anything for a king upon whose property and most dear life a damned defeat was made", Hamlet makes himself aware of and is disappointed by his inadequacy in taking revenge for his father's murder (2.2.580; 596-598). Moreover, by questioning his cowardice in the proceeding lines, Hamlet showcases his problem of procrastination in carrying out the murder of Claudius, even though he knows he is capable of doing so. Newell affirms this when he says, "Hamlet's sense of himself as a coward is derived from a crude, simplistic judgment turning on whether or not he has yet taken any action against the man who murdered his father" (61). Because Hamlet's calculating, intellectual nature causes him to delay carrying out his father's will with "wings as swift of meditative action", he delays the action and further troubles himself with the deed. In this way, the soliloquy functions as a window on Hamlet's fears and passive action.

Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy exposes his true intellectual nature through his inner debate about life and death. Because Hamlet is neither expecting nor responding to any action in this scene, he exudes an authentic, candid light into his reflective personality without any interruption.

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Oct 14, 2015
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Soliloquies
by: Anonymous

pay to write research paper Soliloquies are long speeches that talk only to themselves, there are the ones where two people talk in it, but not to each other, they also have a specific set up

Oct 02, 2015
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Mar 05, 2014
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Sloth Or Not To Sloth
by: zipperhead

Why not just read the thing yourself and think about it? Then shut off the Play Station for a minute and write your own interpretation?

Apr 12, 2012
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Thank u!
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Thanks!

Aug 30, 2011
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THUMBS UP
by: Anonymous

wondeful writing

Jun 14, 2011
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thanks
by: Anonymous

thanks a ton for the post as was looking for hamlet's soliloquy but couldn't find a good answer...

May 02, 2011
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Hamlet Soliloquies
by: Anonymous

has the writer of this piece written on Hamlet's other soliloquies? If so I would love to read them. What I have read I have enjoyed-succinct,reflective and well written. Thanks

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