Commentary on Soliloquy 1 – Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, the first soliloquy spoken by the protagonist reflects the feelings of unrest plaguing this character and successfully sets up the religious framework for the remainder of the play. A soliloquy is spoken by a character that is alone on stage, and reveals the speaker’s thoughts and feelings towards particular events. The effect of the soliloquy is that the audience is given insight into these thoughts, which in turn aid their understanding of the plot and where the character stands in relation to these events. Hamlet’s first soliloquy of the play is filled with his reflection on familial matters, namely his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius, and how religion has failed him. Shakespeare has used this soliloquy in Act 1 of Scene 2 in order for the audience to understand Hamlet’s grief, why his attitude towards women is often negative, and to foreshadow the religious influence which the play has in forthcoming scenes.
Hamlet’s soliloquy commences with his reflection on death, and how religion has failed him. In the opening line of his soliloquy, he claims how he wishes that “this too too solid flesh would melt”, indicating his desire to commit suicide. The repetition of the word “too” being used twice before describing the body as “solid flesh” is representative of Hamlet’s extreme desire to kill himself; his flesh being too solid indicates that he does not want to live in his body anymore. The initial ambiguity of the “solid flesh” described as melting, is quickly revealed as a metaphor for suicide, for the word choice of “melting” indicates something as wasting away, and in the succeeding line he describes how his flesh will “thaw and resolve itself into a dew”. This idea of suicide is cut short by religious values in that he bitterly wishes that “the Everlasting had not fixed / his canon g’ainst self-slaughter”. The word “Everlasting” is used in place of God, and his “canon” is...
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