Hamlet - Soliloquies


Hamlet In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the tragic hero reveals his inner conflicts and introspective attitude in each of the lengthy soliloquies in the play. Hamlet is a static character whose thoughts never dramatically change. Each soliloquy delves further into Hamlet's motivations, or lack thereof, and psyche. Each soliloquy, each slightly different, is all united by vivid imagery, introspective language, and discussion of Hamlet's delay of action. The first soliloquy serves to 'set the stage' for the rest of Hamlet's thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is here that Hamlet first reveals his hatred for his mother's incestuous marriage to his uncle, Claudius, his low self-image, and his great reverence for his father. Each aspect of this soliloquy has an integral and conflicting part in Hamlet's role. While he hates Claudius and immensely idolizes his father, Hamlet will be plagued by his low self-image, thus taking no action and contributing even more to his existing problems. In the beginning lines of this soliloquy Hamlet is already considering suicide. O that this too too solid flesh would melt,? Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world (I, ii, 135-140). Through these lines it is obvious that Hamlet is in the midst of a deep depression. He has no control over the "uses of the world." Hamlet compares Denmark to an "unweeded garden" to symbolize the corruption within his country, that is seeded within Claudius and his incestuous marriage to Gertrude. Hamlet goes on to compare his father to Claudius and comment on the relationship between King Hamlet and Gertrude. 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 (I, ii, 145-148). In Hamlet's eyes Claudius is a beast in comparison to the god-like features of his father. This lays the foundation for Hamlet's vengeful intentions. Hamlet's also comments on the loving relationship enjoyed by his parents, in disbelief of Gertrude's actions. He does not understand why his mother married Claudius in such haste, causing such internal torment for Hamlet. This leads Hamlet to make a generalization about all women. "Frailty, thy name is woman"(I, ii, 146)! Hamlet displays his inability to separate his emotions from his rational being. Hamlet ends this soliloquy by resolving to do nothing for the time being. He has laid the foundation for the rest of the play, but he has also made a decision that will cause him more pain. His resolution to do nothing will be the source of his problems in following speeches. The second soliloquy concerns Hamlet's delay of action. He feels ashamed that he has not avenged his father's death with the speed and expression exhibited by the actors in the play. Hamlet compares his inaction to the dramatic expression the actor exhibits for the death of his character's father. "What would he do, / Had he the motive and cue for passion/ That I have"(II, ii, 566-68)? Hamlet is amazed that the actor can conjure such emotions without a real impetus, while he is incapable of doing anything in response to his father's murder. Hamlet then calls himself a coward for his inability to say anything in defense of his father. "Am I a coward"(II, ii, 578)? This is ironic because he is concentrating on the actor's expression of grief, not a proactive response, which will only inhibit one's action. Hamlet never discusses the act of vengeance, only the actor's ability to "cleave the general ear with horrid speech"(II, ii, 569). Hamlet also displays his low self-esteem in this soliloquy as he sarcastically describes his inaction. This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murdered, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words And fall a-cursing like a very drab?(II, ii, 590-594). Hamlet is his own worst critic throughout the play. Through this statement, Hamlet incites himself to the point that he plans some action. "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king"(II, ii, 611-12). He plans to put on a play that will mirror his father's murder in order to see Claudius' guilty reaction. Finally, Hamlet makes a plan. The third soliloquy shows Hamlet