Shakespeare’s employment of dramatic struggle and disillusionment through his character Hamlet, contributes to the continued engagement of modern audiences. The employment of the soliloquy demonstrates Shakespeare’s approach to the dramatic treatment of these emotions. The soliloquy brings a compensating intimacy, and becomes the means by which Shakespeare brings the audience not only to a knowledge of secret thoughts of characters, but into the closest emotional touch with them too. Through this, the audiences therefore gain a closer relationship with Hamlet, and are absorbed by him because they are able to resonate with his circumstances, as he is faced with enduring truths of the human condition. Through these, the struggle and disillusionment of life, the world, women and himself are identified.
The struggle and disillusionment for life and the unfortunate circumstances it entails in Hamlet’s life is a main feature of his soliloquys. “O that this too too sullied…”(Act 1 Scene 2), is Hamlet’s first soliloquy in the play. The importance of this soliloquy lies in its establishing of Hamlet’s personality and revealing his mental condition. Hamlet’s struggle and disillusionment for life itself is revealed in the abrupt syntax. The sentences progress by increments and interruptions, and exclamations are followed by clarifications, questions and imperatives. More specifically, the disease motif suggests the disillusionment Hamlet feels towards the world. This technique can be identified early on, with the use of the word “sullied”, meaning smirched or dirty. Sullied contrasts well into the feeling of contamination and disease expressed by Hamlet. Furthermore there is the dramatic technique of metonymy, as he substitutes the greater idea of contamination with this attribute of “sullied”. Furthermore, this passionate speech alludes to several other areas of struggle, conveying that he sees the world as a neglected garden grown foul (135-7).
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