Hamlet is the first of Shakespeare’s major tragedies; it had its first performance around 1601 and is the most often performed of Shakespeare’s plays. It is written in verse, in this case unrhymed iambic pentameter, and prose, how we speak every day. When reading this play it does seem as though it is one very long poem, which isn’t surprising as about 27% of it is written in verse. This essay will look at Hamlet’s soliloquy in act 2 scene 2 and at his state of mind at this point of the play and to compare this to different points of the play. The question being asked is what is his state of mind? Is he insane or not? Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark and a scholar whose studies are cut short due to the terrible death of his father King Hamlet and the hasty marriage of his mother to his uncle. In the soliloquy “Ay, so, god be wi’ ye!.......Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”, act 2 scene 2, Hamlet is showing the very essence of his conflict, that is seeking revenge for his father’s death. However, he is unable to act on behalf of his father because of his revulsion toward exacting that cold and calculating revenge. Alex Newell states; “Hamlets self condemnation takes several bizarre forms (in this soliloquy) including histrionic imaginings of a series of demeaning insults that he absorbs like a coward because he feels he has done nothing to take revenge on Claudius”. (Newell 61.) Hamlet works himself into a frenzy hoping his passions will halt his better judgement and he can then charge forward and exact revenge on Claudius without hesitation but because of his apprehensions he is unable to act immediately, so he focuses his attention on a plan to ensure Claudius admits his own guilt by staging the play “The Mouse Trap”. As Claudius watches the play within a play re-enacted surely he will reveal his own guilt. Hamlet cannot take the word of his father’s ghost because he may be “the devil”,(act 2, scene 2, 586) trying to trick him in to damning himself,...
References: Newell, Alex, The Soliloquies of Hamlet, London: Associated University Presses, 1991.
Hamlet, London, edited by Gill, R. Oxford University Press, 2009.
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