Hamlet Soliloquy Critical Appreciation

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Critical Appreciation

This particular speech has become more famous than most of Shakespeare’s soliloquies and is quoted on a daily basis. The meaning of the soliloquy is quite simple. Hamlet is on the verge of committing suicide and starts by questioning whether or not it is better to live or die. When Hamlet utters the pained question, “To be, or not to be: that is the question: / Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles” there is little doubt that he is thinking of death. After posing this question and wondering about the nature of the great sleep, Hamlet then goes on to list many sufferings men are prone to in the rough course of life, which unsurprisingly makes it seem as though he is moving towards death yet again. By the end of the soliloquy, however, he finally realises, “But that dread of something after death, / The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns—puzzles the will / And makes us rather bear those ills we have.” Although at this last moment Hamlet realizes that many chose life over death because of this inability to know the afterlife, the speech remains a deep contemplation about the nature and reasons for death. Hamlet ponders whether or not he wishes to exist, inquiring whether it's better to struggle through the trials of life or commit suicide. He declares death would be the better option if not for the unknown that death brings. It is this mystery that causes men to suffer through their mortal existence instead of ending their lives. Throughout this Hamlet soliloquy Shakespeare has used several literary devices which are extremely important in creating the profound effect which this piece clearly has on people. The question “To be or not be” is in fact an example of antithesis. This is a rhetorical device containing a contrast of ideas in a balanced parallel construction. The use of antithesis draws attention to the first...
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