Hamlet Soliloquies and Their Analysis

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In the course of the play, Hamlet has seven long soliloquies. The first of these occurs before he has seen the Ghost. In this soliloquy, Hamlet reveals the grief that has been gnawing at his mind. He wishes that religion did not forbid suicide so that he could kill himself and be rid of this grief. He feels disillusioned with the world.

“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world”.

He deplores (condemns) the fact that his mother should have remarried barely two months after the death of her first husband. This soliloquy shows Hamlet’s meditative nature. It also reveals his filial attachment to his dead father whom he speaks highly, and his scorn of his uncle to whom he refers in disparaging terms. His references to Hyperion, Niobe and Hercules show him to be well versed in classical literature. We also note his generalizing tendency when says: “Frailty thy name is woman;”

Resolution to avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet’s second soliloquy comes just after the Ghost leaves him, after charging him with the duty of taking revenge upon the murderer of his father. Hamlet resolves to wipe out everything else from his memory and to remember only Ghost’s command. The manner in which Hamlet here speaks of never forgetting into action and carry out the behest (request) of the Ghost. The Ghost’s revelation has stunned him and he refers to his mother as “a most pernicious woman” and to his uncle as a “smiling damned villain”. We again note his generalizing tendency when he says that “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”.

Self reproach: In his third soliloquy, Hamlet bitterly scolds himself for having failed to execute his revenge so far, he calls himself “a dull and muddy mettled rascal” for his failure, accusing himself of being “pigeon livered”, an ass who “ like a whore” can only unpack his heart with words and “And fall a-cursing, like a very drab”. He refers to his uncle as a “bloody bawdy villain; remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles villain”. He then dwells upon his plan to stage a play (The Mouse Trap), saying:

“the the play 's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king”

In other words, Hamlet now seeks a confirmation of the Ghost’s charge against Claudius. This is rather strange, because it has taken him long to doubt the authenticity of the Ghost’s version. It is obvious that Hamlet is more a philosopher and less a man of action.

On the Horns of Dilemma. Hamlet fourth soliloquy, his most famous and most celebrated, is the most philosophical of all. “To be, or not to be: that is the question”. Hamlet asks himself whether it is noble to suffer the cruelties of fate silently or to put up a fight against the misfortunes of life. It would be better perhaps “to commit suicide” if death were to mean a total extinction of consciousness. But the fear of what may happen to us after death, make us endure the ills and injustices of life. This soliloquy, more than any other reveals the speculative temperament of Hamlet, his irresolute and wavering mind, and his incapacity for any premeditated action of a momentous nature. His catalogue of the misfortunes of life once again shows his generalizing habit of thought. This soliloquy partly explains Hamlet’s delay in carrying out his purpose, and shows at the same time the mental torture that he has been undergoing because of that delay. We here see a sensitive, reflective person compelled to face situation with which he unable to cope.

Decision to “speak daggers” to his motherIn his fifth soliloquy, Hamlet describes his mood as one in which he could “drink hot blood, an do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on”. In this mood he can even kill his mother, but he would not follow Nero’s example: “Let me be cruel, not unnatural”. He therefore decides to “speak daggers” to his mother but use none. We can well realize Hamlet’s story...
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