Soliloquies of Hamlet


The Soliloquies of Hamlet

Authors use various literary elements to give insight
into the mental composition of their characters. In
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” we can trace
Hamlet’s mental process through his soliloquies.
Hamlet’s first soliloquy reveals him to be thoroughly
disgusted with Gertrude, Claudius, and the world in general.
“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the
uses of this world” (1284), he said. He is saddened by the
death of his father, who he admired as a king and husband to
his mother. His grief over his father’s death is
compounded by his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius.
Hamlet protests, “a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
would have mourn’d longer” (1285). The worst part is that
he cannot tell them how he feels.
In his second soliloquy, Hamlet becomes curious and
suspicious after hearing of the ghost. “My father’s spirit
in arms! All is not well; I doubt some foul play” (1287),
he said. Hamlet feels that the presence of the ghost
indicates that his father died due to dubious circumstance.
After talking with his father’s ghost, in the 3rd
Soliloquy Hamlet is angered by the news that Claudius had
murdered his father. Hamlet assures that he will think of
nothing but revenge. “I’ll wipe away all trivial fond
records...and thy commandment all alone shall live within
the book and volume of my brain” (1296), he proclaims.
In Hamlet’s fourth soliloquy, his mental state shows
signs of declination. He castigates himself for not taking
action to avenge his father. He realizes that he has cause
to kill Claudius, but cannot muster the chutzpah to go
through with it. He said, “Why, what an ass am I! This is
most brave, that I...must, like a whore, unpack my heart
with words” (1314). He also expresses some doubt that the
ghost was telling the truth. He said, “The spirit that I
have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power
T’assume a pleasing shape...” (1315). However upset he is
with himself, Hamlet is sure that the play he has arranged
will reveal Claudius’ guilt.
In the fifth soliloquy, Hamlet hits upon a mental
nadir. As he contemplates suicide, Hamlet asks himself if
it is more honorable to live with life’s misfortunes or to
die young and bypass all the hardships. Hamlet suggests
that the reason we choose life is because we know nothing
about death, except that it is final. It is “the
undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns”
(1317). He goes on to say, “Thus conscience does make
cowards of us all” (1317). Subscribing to this theory,
Hamlet takes the coward’s way and does not take his life.
Hamlet’s mental status shows some promise in his sixth
soliloquy. Extremely resentful toward Gertrude, part of
Hamlet really wants to hurt her. Sensibility prevails as he
admits that it is not his nature to harm. He resolves to
“speak daggers to her, but use none” (1328).
In his seventh, and final, soliloquy, Hamlet gains the
courage to finally avenge his father. After talking with a
captain in Fortinbras’ army, Hamlet is inspired by the men
going off to Poland to fight for not much more than pride.
Hamlet then feels ashamed of his unwillingness to go after
Claudius. It dawned on Hamlet that he had been thinking too
much and acting too little. “Now, whether it be bestial
oblivion, or some craven scruple of thinking too precisely
on th’ event, A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part
wisdom and ever three parts coward, I do not know why yet I
live to say, “This thing’s to do” (1342). With his newfound
determination to avenge his father’s murder, he vows, “O,
from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing
worth” (1342).
There is no doubt that movies and television shows have
replaced plays as main sources of entertainment.
Unfortunately, modern entertainment sources rarely utilize
important forms of discourse, such as the soliloquy. The
soliloquy can be a powerful tool used to gain access into
the deepest thoughts of a character. I submit that without
it, “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” would have had a different
effect. Instead, Hamlet’s soliloquies gave depth to his
emotions, making the audience aware of his internal
conflicts. The Soliloquies of Hamlet

Authors use various literary elements to give insight
into the mental composition of their characters. In
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” we can trace
Hamlet’s mental process through his soliloquies.
Hamlet’s first soliloquy reveals him to be thoroughly
disgusted with Gertrude, Claudius, and the world in general.
“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the
uses of this world” (1284), he said. He is saddened by the
death of