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Four Major Soliloquies Reflect Changes In Hamlet English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1510 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the following piece of coursework, I will analyse and discuss how the four major soliloquies reflect changes in Hamlet’s attitudes towards his father’s death.

Firstly, looking at Hamlet’s first soliloquy, Act 1 and scene 2, lines (129-164) we learn that he is disgusted by his mother’s speedy marriage, just soon after his father’s death. He states:

“Oh that this too, too, sullied

flesh would melt thow and resolve itself into dew…”

Here Hamlet is so saddened by his father’s death that he wishes he could dissolve into thin air. He also wishes to die, but realises that committing suicide would be considered a sin:

“Or that the everlasting…

His canon against self-slaughter.”

Here he uses the word: “everlasting” to refer to God, who doesn’t agree with sin and in this case suicide, being a sin. Although, Hamlet seems to have sorted this thought, he still thinks of life as tedious and rank, stating:

“O God, God, how weary, slate, flat and unprofitable

seem to me all the uses of this world!”

His description of life shows us that he is depressed with the world’s things and that he feels everything in the world is pointless, which he goes on to describe more deeply in (lines 135-236):

“Tis unweeded garden,

that grows to see, things rank and gross in nature.”

Again, he is using the metaphorical Garden of Eden; comparing himself to a garden without weed, showing us that he views the garden as it should be: “foul”.

Furthermore, grieved not only by his father’s death, he is also outraged about his mother’s quick marriage to his Uncle, just a month after his father’s death:

“Let me not think on’t!

Frailty they name is women.”

Here, he believes all women are weak because of his observations of his mother’s wicked actions. Adding to this, Hamlet in (lines 140-142) is tormented by images of his father’s powerful love for his mother; believing that her display of love was pretence:

“Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother…”

He feels that she just wanted to satisfy her own lust and greed, by acting to hastily, he says:

“O God, a beast that wants to discourse of reason

would have mourned longer!”

(Lines 154-155)

Here he starts to compare his mother to a “beast” which shows that she has no intelligence of her own and only relies on Claudius to direct her path. This also suggests that the mother is blinded by Claudius and finds it hard to see through his character.

A final important contrast in this 1st soliloquy, is seen in Hamlet’s comment (lines 157-158)

“No more like my father, than I to Hercules.”

Here Hamlet’s remark shows us his continuing with disgust and disapproval of his uncle Claudius, saying that he is no closer to his father “Old Hamlet” than he himself is to an enormously strong mythical Greek hero. He then finishes the soliloquy off by stating:

“It is not, nor it cannot come to good…but break, my heart,

for I must hold my tongue.”

Here he is condemning their marriage but because of the sorrow being built in his heart, he wants to be in silence. He is doing what he thinks is best for his mother.

In the second soliloquy Act2 and Scene 2, ( lines 501-535) we learn that Hamlet feels useless and questions himself based on his own abilities, comparing himself to an actor, who has no emotional connection to his fictional play:

“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba…?

had he the motive and the care for passion that I have?”

(Lines 134)

Here he wonders how the actor can act with such deep emotions; where as he on the other hand is filled with the true pain and grief but does not do anything about it. He shows that he doubts his own character and obedience to his father. In (lines 518-528) Hamlet states:

“Yet l, a dull and muddy meltal rascal peak, am I a coward.”

Again, he questions and reflects carefully on whether or not he is a coward, because he is slow to take revenge on Claudius.

Finally, he comes to his conclusion, by stating:

“But l am pigeon livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter or ere this I should ha’ fattee all the region kites with this slaves offal.”

Here, hamlet is filled with all the bitterness needed for him to get his revenge on Claudius. However, he comes to realise that swearing will not help him achieve anything.

Although he feels confident about taking his revenge, he also stops to reflect on the path he will be taking. A negative image is created to reflect his hatred for Claudius; showing how he does not want to take the evil path that Claudius took when he murdered his father.

This soliloquy demonstrates Hamlet’s anger at himself for doubting and how he intends to obtain the final piece of evidence about his father’s death, to help him determine whether Claudius killed his father.

Hamlet’s third soliloquy, Act 3, Scene 1 (lines 55-95) reflects on “death”:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question…”

Again, he considers suicide, but when he gets to doing it he finds an excuse not to, questioning himself about whether to choose death or life. Here, he becomes extremely depressed about it than in the first soliloquy. In lines 55, we learn that he is seriously considering suicide, but wonders if death is worse than life:

“To die, to sleep, No more.”

Hamlet Contemplates suicide, by asking himself if it is more honourable to live with life’s misfortunes or to die young, passing all the pain and suffering:

“The heart-ache and the thousands natural shocks, that flesh is heir to-tio a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

Here he looks at all the pain and his anguish and sets his mind on the not so easy way out, willing to get away from it all.

In contrast to this, hamlet suggests that the reason we choose life is because we know nothing about death, except that it is the final path we take in life:

“The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.”

He knows that if he chooses death there will not be a return, he goes on to say:

“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”

Here we learn that Hamlet decides to stick with life, as he cannot take his own life until he takes Claudius’s. This is a very important soliloquy because it shows a new change in Hamlet’s character; we realise that he is no longer a man pretending to be mad.

Lastly, the fourth soliloquy, Act 4 and Scene 4 (lines 30-7), Hamlet starts to wonder whether he is fulfilling his purpose in life, which he now clearly believes is to avenge his father’s murderer. He begins to question himself on why he didn’t take his revenge earlier. He describes his plan for revenge as, “dull”:

“How all occasions do inform against me, and spur my dull revenge!”

(Lines 32)

At this point Hamlet is feeling ashamed of his procrastination and wonders if he is indeed a great man or a coward. He also states:

“When honours at stake, how stained I then, that have a father killed a mother stained, excitement of my reason and let all sleep.”

(Lines 57-60)

Here, Hamlet does not realise his potential to take revenge, but in (lines 65) he soon becomes clear that he is now just a man with one purpose, which is to take “revenge”:

“From this time fourth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!”

We learn that, Hamlet is now beginning to psyche himself up for revenge. Although he does not act on these thoughts he takes the first step forward, which is realising that he is a man of action rather than just of thought.

In conclusion, from what I have learned it is quite clear that this tragic play relies heavily on Hamlet’s soliloquies. Without these fantastic thoughts, the scenes of the play would be useless. This is why Shakespeare allows us the audience to hear Hamlet’s thoughts making, it easier for us to interpret what is being felt.

We also learn that Hamlet’s attitude towards his father’s death changes throughout. Firstly, he seems sure about his plans to take revenge on his uncle, then suddenly filled with confusion and still seeking evidence, he comes to realise he has wasted his time and let his father down.

I have to say that it was a well written play and I enjoyed it.


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