Throughout the play Hamlet there are soliloquys, these soliloquys enable the audience/reader to be able to know what the characters truly think and how they truly feel. Although many characters have their own soliloquys, Hamlet’s are the most informative and advance the plot the greatest. In Hamlet’s soliloquys we learn of events that speed his revenge, how he feels about his father’s death and his mother’s swift marriage to Hamlet’s uncle Claudius. Hamlet’s first soliloquy of the play reveals possibly the most about his character in one soliloquy.
This soliloquy reveals that Hamlet longs for death by saying “O that this too too solid flesh would melt” (Shakespeare 14) but he cannot kill himself because it is a sin: “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. ” (Shakespeare 14). Hamlet is considering suicide because he finds life and the world utterly tedious and foul, and overrun with “things rank and gross in nature” (Shakespeare 14). When Hamlet talks about his father he compares him to the sun god Hyperion and his uncle and new king Claudius to a satyr.
Hyperion to a satyr” (Shakespeare 14). Hamlet recalls how lovingly his father cared for his mother “so loving to my mother” (Shakespeare 14), and how passionately she loved him “she would hang on him As if increase of appetite had grown” (Shakespeare 14). When Hamlet thinks of his mother marrying his despised uncle, Hamlet is disgusted at how soon they were married after his father’s death. Hamlets first soliloquy creates a dark atmosphere because he longs for death and condemns his mother’s marriage to his father’s brother.
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By truthfully revealing his innermost thoughts and emotions, Hamlet’s soliloquy advances the plot by showing the audience and reader how Hamlet feels about the current situation, his father’s death, his own life and mortality, and his mother’s marriage to Claudius. Hamlet’s second soliloquy follows the visit from the late King Hamlet’s ghost. Once the ghost leaves, Hamlet seems fully determined on revenge in contrast to the underlying theme of meditation and love while Hamlet was with the ghost.
Once the ghost is gone, Hamlet has no thoughts of whether or not the Ghost is good or evil. Hamlet vows to remember the Ghost and its command to revenge. He makes it clear his feelings toward his mother “O most pernicious women! ” (Shakespeare 32), and to his uncle “O villain, villain, smiling damned villain! ” (Shakespeare 32). This soliloquy’s main focus is on Hamlet’s revenge of his father’s death. Looking at this soliloquy it looks like Hamlet will be swift in his revenge, but his road to revenge will be full of procrastination and over thinking.
This soliloquy advances the plot by showing what will be the focus throughout the rest of the play. In Hamlet’s third soliloquy he contemplates how the first player can weep for Hecuba, a fictional character, when in reality Hecuba means nothing to the first player and Hecuba cares nothing for him. Hamlet thinks of what the Player would do if he had the motive that Hamlet has. This thought provokes Hamlet to scold himself for apparent cowardice and lack of action when he has real reasons to take them. From this he curses Claudius “Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! ” (Shakespeare 62). Hamlet listens to himself and mocks his emotional outburst “Why, what an ass am I! ” (Shakespeare 62). Hamlet realizes that he must act in some way and sets his brain to work and thinks of something to do “About, my brains. Hum” (Shakespeare 62). He begins to shape a plan to test the Ghost’s story. Hamlet starts to question whether the Ghost is a good or evil spirit “The spirit that I have seen May be a devil, and the devil hath power” (Shakespeare 62).
Hamlet’s plan becomes clear, the players will perform a play showing a murder similar to the way that Claudius murdered the King Hamlet, if when watching this murder Claudius reveals his guilt; it will prove that the Ghost has spoken truly “The play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. ” (Shakespeare 63). This soliloquy creates a conniving atmosphere as Hamlet plans to make Claudius reveal his guilt of murdering his brother, King Hamlet. This advances the plot by showing that Hamlet is capable of taking some action and shows the audience Hamlet’s plan to make Claudius show his emotions.
This fourth soliloquy starts out with possibly the most popular Shakespeare quote in the world “To be, or not to be, that is the question:” (Shakespeare 66). By this Hamlet could be talking about his own personal dilemma, whether he should live, or commit suicide. Hamlet could also not be considering his own situation, but is asking a more general question: is life worth living? This questions the advantages and disadvantages of human existence, whether it is better to be unhappy, than to be at all. This soliloquy creates a dark atmosphere because of Hamlet’s questioning of suicide and if life in general is worth living.
This soliloquy shows that Hamlet is still questioning life as he did earlier in the play in his first soliloquy. Just before Hamlet’s fifth soliloquy, Hamlet argues with Polonius and refuses to be treated like a musical instrument that can be made to say anything at someone else’s wish. In the soliloquy Hamlet uses the melodramatic stock imagery of a traditional Elizabethan revenger, “Now could I drink hot blood,” (Shakespeare 88). As Hamlet leaves to meet Gertrude, he vows to scold her, but not harm her, “I will speak daggers to her, but use none. ” (Shakespeare 88).
In Hamlet’s sixth soliloquy, he enters into the church where he finds Claudius praying. Hamlet draws his sword to kill Claudius but then holds back because he is praying. If Hamlet were to kill him while he was praying then Claudius’s soul would be sent to heaven. Hamlet then reflects on the fact that his father was killed at a moment when he was unprepared for heaven thus condemning him to suffering after death. Hamlet then decides to kill Claudius at a more sinful moment, and thus damn him to hell. Once again Hamlet has found an excuse to postpone killing Claudius.
There is dramatic irony in Claudius’s final couplet. It reveals that Hamlet may have caught the conscience of the king, but that he was deceived by appearance. Claudius only looked as if he was praying, his efforts to contact god were unsuccessful: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go. ” (Shakespeare 91). This soliloquy creates a dark atmosphere even though it is in a church because Hamlet wants to make sure that he not only kills Claudius but that he suffers eternally.
This soliloquy shows that Hamlet is not a hard-hearted traditional revenger and continually finds reasons to delay killing Claudius. Before Hamlet’s seventh and final soliloquy, Hamlet speaks with a captain in the Norwegian army. The captain tells Hamlet that the army is passing through Denmark on its way to fight for a tiny unprofitable part of Poland. Hamlet reflects on the sickness of an apparently healthy society “This is th’impostume of much wealth and peace. ” (Shakespeare 110) in which thousands will die in battle over such a “straw” (Shakespeare 110).
These thoughts prompt Hamlet’s last soliloquy in which he once again reproaches himself for delaying the revenge of his father’s murder. Hamlet then considers that everything he encounters prompts him to take revenge: “How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge. ” (Shakespeare 110). He reflects that god has given him human intelligence to use and that capacity for making moral decision making is what separates humans from animals: “Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means To do’t” (Shakespeare 110).
The encounter with Fortinbras’ army spurs Hamlet to speed his revenge: “Oh from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth. (Shakespeare 111). Throughout Hamlet’s soilioquys we have been given an inside look at his deepest thoughts, his views on life and death, and his view on military expeditions. Most importantly we learn that Hamlet is not a traditional Shakespearean avenger. His main character flaws, procrastination and overthinking, prevent him from accomplishing a speedy revenge.
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