Analysis of Hamlet's Soliloquy

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Shakespeare uses about seven soliloquies to bring out a distinct drama in the play -Hamlet. The themes in the play are brought out with the help of the occasional monologues by prince Hamlet. The 17th-century tragedy by Shakespeare revolves around one main character who is set to revenge for his father’s death. Hamlet, the name of the play protagonist, is angered not only by the untimely demise of his father but also by the quick remarriage of his mother to a man whom he believes to be his father’s killer. King Claudius and Queen Gertrude explain their rushed marriage as a way to counter the encroaching Danish army, but to Prince Hamlet, his father’s brother-Claudius was after satisfying his greed for power. The first soliloquy in Hamlet occurs in act 1 scene 2 lines 333-363 when hamlets contemplate about his father’s death and his suicidal inclinations (Meer, Syed Hunbbel). Hamlet’s fails to understand why his mother marries his father’s brother almost immediately after her husband is dead. Literarily, a bereaved woman would take time to mourn the death of her husband even if it means that she will have to get off her duties. In contrary, Hamlet's mother barely waits for a month to pass after her husband’s burial before she remarries King Claudius. Shakespeare, therefore, uses prince hamlet’s monologue to express his outrage and agony.

Prince hamlet’s soliloquy

O that this too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on't! O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

But two months dead! — nay, not so much, not two:

So excellent a king; that was, to this,

Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother,

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!

Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him

As if increase of appetite had grown

By what it fed on: and yet, within a month, —

Let me not think on't, — Frailty, thy name is woman! —

A little month; or ere those shoes were old

With which she followed my poor father's body

Like Niobe, all tears; — why she, even she, —

O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason,

Would have mourn'd longer, — married with mine uncle,

My father's brother; but no more like my father

Than I to Hercules: within a month;

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,

She married: — O, most wicked speed, to post

With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

It is not, nor it cannot come to good;

But break my heart, — for I must hold my tongue!

Analysis of hamlet’s soliloquy

After Claudius marries Queen Gertrude, the two makes a grand flourished entry to their stateroom as the new king and queen of Denmark. In attendance are the court aides, Prince Hamlet, Polonius and his son Laertes, and the ambassador to Norway voltemand. After settling in the courtroom, the new king Claudius tries to explain their swift marriage in his maiden speech. Claudius states that the court cannot afford excessive grief due to the encroaching Danish forces who might mistake their mourning for weakness ("William Shakespeare: Soliloquies And Asides In Hamlet"). The new king then sends the ambassador to try and stop the Danish army from invading. After the other courtiers had left the court, both Gertrude and Claudius notice the evident demeanor in Hamlet. The prince seemed to be in deep thoughts, and his sneer to his late father’s loving posture suggested that Hamlet was not exceptional. The king and queen then encourage hamlet to let go the grief and move on with life. When her mother asks him why he seems devastated by his father’s death, hamlet answer is that of a person filled with hatred and contempt ("William Shakespeare: Soliloquies And Asides In Hamlet"). The prince answers his mother Gertrude that unlike his mother and her new husband, he has no pretense.

Hamlet accuses his mother of pretending to mourn her husband’s death whereas her actions suggests that she is rejoicing in the old man’s death. It’s the feelings about her mother’s decision to quickly remarry Claudius whom he suspects to have killed his father that sends hamlet into a scene of soliloquy. Although the king and queen think that Hamlet has sufficiently mourned his father and that Hamlet should cast off the deep melancholy, Hamlet is not convinced that he has grieved enough for his late father. According to Shakespeare, Hamlet feels that he has done little to avenge the death of his father (Pearce, B, and K Duffy). In his soliloquy, hamlet liken the world to “unweeded garden” in which both wanted and unwanted plants grow (Pearce, B, and K Duffy). In this line, prince Hamlet blames himself for not being able to control the activities taking place in the royal court. In line 335-336, hamlet regret the fact the he cannot commit suicide because it is forbidden by God. Knowing that suicide is a sin, hamlet wishes that his physical being could just go away without killing himself. “Oh that this too too solid flesh, would melt. Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew” (Meer, Syed Hunbbel).

The primary cause of prince Hamlet misery is the incestuous marriage between his mother and his late father’s brother (Pearce, B, and K Duffy) . The hasty nature of the union worries hamlet and makes him wonder whether her mother loved his father. Through the monologue, the author portrays the deep affection prince hamlet had for the late king hamlet. Even at the face of aggression from foreign armies, Prince Hamlet is not ready to abandon mourning his father. He continuously criticizes his mother for hastily moving on with life instead of taking a respectable period to grieve for her husband. In his monologue, Hamlet states that “a beast that wants discourse would have mourned longer.” (Meer, Syed Hunbbel). Although he scorns Gertrude for her action, Hamlet accuses her of weakness rather than malice in the line, “frailty, thy name is woman.” Additionally, the soliloquy shows how the late king was a loving father and husband, “…so loving to my mother”. Additionally, Prince Hamlet takes a considerable amount of time to mourn his father’s death.  The lengthy period he took shows that he loved him and probably, king hamlet also loved him very much. Hamlet even offers to revenge for his father’s death “it is not, nor it cannot come to good.” The monologue also disapproves the hasty nature of Gertrude’s remarriage. In a typical society, the actions shown by Gertrude and her second husband are immoral and unacceptable (Pearce, B, and K Duffy).

Crafted soliloquy for Ophelia

Love oh sweet love

King’s desire for thee burns like the midnight candle

They descend in numbers to try quench thy thirsty and lonely souls

Muffled with a royal wrap, you send me thy greetings,

Greetings of a man in phantom.

Thy thrown beseech thee,

A daughter of a crown counselor suits not your majesty.

I know thy lips whisper the words most affectionate,

Thy tongue; truly yearns for the day you and me sneaks into the dark.

But alas, tis world isn’t place for us.

My father sees a monster in thee,

He says, thy abscond once satisfied.

Each dawn I want to remain on the dark edges,

But daylight flushes thy out

Oh God, light up my way

Thy servant has lost way,

Despaired on whom to follow,

Medieval perceptions of father’s love?

Or thy soul desires?

Mother so beloved

Only if death showed mercy!

 Me Ophelia, would ‘now way forward.

Now, stand firm

Lest malady drains sanity,

For its better to love than to be loved.

This soliloquy can be placed in act 3 scene 1 when Ophelia lies to Hamlet about the whereabouts of her father. Ophelia knew that her father was eavesdropping, but still, she replied that he was at home when Hamlet asked her. Ophelia finds herself in a dilemma not knowing whether to follows her father and brother’s advice to leave hamlet. Her father thinks that Hamlet just wants to take her virginity and go away since Ophelia cannot be hamlet’s wife. On the other hand, Ophelia feels that her love for Hamlet is indeed real and hamlet loves her. Ophelia is then left to wonder which way to follow. She thinks of ignoring her father’s advice, but she hesitates on realizing the possibility that Hamlet's love might at the end turn out to be false. Without a mother to seek help from, Ophelia is left to struggle with the world alone. Unable to control her thoughts, Ophelia ends up drowning in the river after she fell off a tree.

Crafted personal soliloquy

Shakespeare’s soliloquies remain a masterpiece of arts even in the contemporary world. The dramatic effect and the ability to succinctly bring out his themes are unmatched. Although the technique employ the use of ancient texts, the method can still be used to bring out feelings and thoughts in a modern world. For instance, the composition below is a personal soliloquy that is addressed to an audience that is unfamiliar.  It discusses my take on the meaning of life and why one must work hard.

Tick tock, tick tock: the facades of life’s meaning

The two arms paced up and down the circle as if giving life a sense

Is it not simple how a day is made?

A couple of minutes adds to hours.

Hours run into days, and days into month.

Oh, precious life,

Though hasty, nasty are the questions in it.

Why wake up in dawn and sleep at dusk?

Why burry today and be buried tomorrow?

Why help and be troubled thyself: because it is life?

Is there tomorrow without today: perhaps, is yesternight mother to today?

Faiths dwells and fades in thee,

The blue ocean in front has no end.

Fierce convey approaching onshore

The torchbearer isn’t friendlier than the message itself

There is no light at the other end of the tunnel

The monster in it caress at peril,

Taking what it deems unfit for this world.

Now, why do we live then?

Or we are a garden whose master picks the best without notice?

And the usual helter-skelter?

Any solid reason?

Nay, it’s not for better tomorrow.

Apparently, we fear death: poor death

Whereas tomorrow might never come

Maybe it brings hope for thee.

We dine and weep with whips

But it can never stop our course

The discourse of life and mortality

Arise oh sons and daughters of light,

The future dangles in thy tender palms

The York you lift today will pave the way for prosperity

Give life and tomorrow a meaning

Conclusion

The use of soliloquies in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is exemplary. The author managed to utilize the technique in bringing out the inner feelings of the main characters and at the end gives the play a rigid plot. In Shakespeare’s play, the soliloquy is used to dramatize the scenes and to explain to the audience some of the things that are hidden from the other characters. For instance, Shakespeare uses Hamlet soliloquies to communicate hamlet’s next moves and show the latter’s dissatisfaction on how things are managed in the royal court (Pearce, B, and K Duffy). Therefore, soliloquies link the human nature of a character to the audience in a dramatic way.

Work cited

Shakespeare, W. "Hamlet."New Haven, CT, USA, 2003, http://www.ebrary.com.

Meer, Syed Hunbbel. "Hamlet's First Soliloquy (Act 1, Scene 2): Text, Summary, And Analysis."Letterpile, 2018, https://letterpile.com/books/Hamlets-1st-Soliloquy.

Pearce, B, and K Duffy. "Hamlet: Rational And Emotional Units Of Meaning In Four Soliloquies."Shakespeare In Southern Africa, vol 22, no. 1, 2011, African Journals Online (AJOL), doi:10.4314/sisa.v22i1.71885.

"William Shakespeare: Soliloquies And Asides In Hamlet."International Journal On Studies In English Language And Literature, vol 4, no. 10, 2016, ARC Publications Pvt Ltd., doi:10.20431/2347-3134.0410013.

December 12, 2023
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Hamlet Literature Review

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