Hamlet's First Soliloquy

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Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act I Scene 2 is the first time that the reader fully understands Hamlet’s character, his inner thoughts and opinions. The general tone of this soliloquy is very personal and emotional revealing Hamlet’s despair over the current situation and his depressing state of mind. It sets the stage for the rest of the story, being Hamlet’s hatred of Claudius and resentment of his mother.

Previous to this soliloquy we learn that King Hamlet’s brother, Claudius, has become the new king of Denmark by entering into an incestuous marriage with Queen Gertrude, the late king’s wife. Claudius has made a grandiose, eloquent speech presenting him and his wife to the court, manipulating and distracting his audience from the abnormality of the situation. Hamlet, naturally still mourning his father’s death, is shocked by how quickly everyone has forgotten and refuses to play along with Claudius’ show. Hamlet interrupts the speech with snide, witty comments like, “a little more than kin and less than kind,” addressing the unnatural relationship that him and Claudius now have. The King and Queen turn to Hamlet and encourage him to get over father’s death and to stay in Denmark under the pretense of loving him. When Hamlet again interrupts with spiteful words against both his mother and Claudius, Claudius publicly humiliates Hamlet by making a speech, highlighting the reasons why Hamlet cannot be king. Instead of refuting Claudius, Hamlet becomes compliant to his mother’s wishes and agrees to stay in Denmark.

Shakespeare utilizes situational irony at this point in the story where once Hamlet is left alone we expect him to explode into anger, but instead he falls into a passive state of self-pitying. “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.” In this line Hamlet expresses his desire to commit suicide which alerts the reader to his depressive state. The way in which he describes the act as “melting” also alerts us...
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