Sunday, February 24, 2008

Discussion 3 - To be, or not to be. Aye, there's the point.

Hamlet delivers 3 soliloquies in the first 3 acts of Hamlet. Explain how the three soliloquies build towards the explosion of action which is act 3 of Hamlet. Focus your response on the soliloquy in act 3.

15 comments:

Rosanna C said...

Sore Distraction�The Prince or the King�s Nephew?

�You would play upon me, you would / seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the / heart of my mystery, you would sound me from my / lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is / much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet / cannot you make it speak. �Sblood, do you think I / am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what / instrument you will, though you fret me, you cannot play upon me� (3.2.355-63). Northrop Frye once said, �The �to be or not to be� soliloquy, hackneyed as it is, is still the kernel of the play. It�s organized largely on a stream of infinitives, that mysterious part of speech that�s neither a verb nor a noun, neither action nor thing, and its nothingness, at the centre of being.� Many Freudian critics suggest that the remedy for all the infinite possibilities of human consciousness is action, even though, the very action could comprise of destructive chaos and possibly murder. One can think of the human conscience as a fatal limited repertoire that kills all possibilities for acting. It manifests an unusual state of mind, where one is trapped in some unknown derivative of a prison, �For who would bear the whips and scorns of time� (3.1.70), but is still capable to gather presumptive evidence. Throughout this tragic play, Hamlet is able to manifest a torrent of abilities, ideas, and qualities. Does the major struggle of this play arise for the inability to decipher what is right�judging from character or judging from one�s actions?

The audience is compelled to take into consideration that there is a destructive reason for Hamlet�s delay which has not yet been fathomed, �O what a rogue and peasant slave am I / Is it not monstrous that this player here, / But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, / could force his soul so to his own conceit / That from her working all his visage wann�d / Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, / A broken voice, and his whole function suiting / with forms to his conceit? And all for nothing� (2.2.544-57). Would it be his incapacity for acting out certain deeds which sprout into the poisonous tendrils of revenge and doubt, �To be, or not to be, that is the question: / Whether �tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune� (3.1.56-8). Hamlet�s hesitancy is partly due to an internal conflict between the impulse of fulfilling his cursed task on one hand and his pejorative pessimistic view of life on the other. The outstanding beauty of Shakespeare�s tragic play, is after following Hamlet�s tragic mental trends, the audience realizes that revenge is a problem for Hamlet and therefore, should remain a thorny problem for the audience, �No traveller returns, puzzles the will� (3.1.80). One comprehends the possibilities that even though, Hamlet, a man so profoundly gifted with the ability to successfully criticize all configurations of his disposition, is aware of the fact, that he himself is not able to comprehend his heart, his fears, his desires, and most importantly, his motives, �Thus conscience does make cowards of us all� (3.1.83). This �cowardice� is not moral or physical, it is the cowardice of an intellectual mind, who is reluctant to understand and explore his inner most being which could possibly result in some form of weakness. Does Hamlet�s conflict strike a weary musical not in a similar personal conflict the reader might have also possibly encountered? This unfortunate resonating echo intensifies the tragic effect of the drama. Hamlet�s duty is set in clear sight, but he avoids every opportunity, and he suffers the unfortunate consequences of remorse, �Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them. To die�to sleep, / No more; and by a sleep to say we end / The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks� (3.1.59-63). Hamlets conscience�its structure, its tone, and atmosphere, reflect his reluctant steady movements towards annihilating his arc nemesis. One wonders, why after 3 Acts, the obscure story line plunges into a sequence of scenes that results in many sudden explosions of action. From the very beginning of the tragedy, every scene leaves unanswered questions for his motivations. The scenes construct a tentative shaping of contemplating whether to actually �take arms against a sea of troubles� and also to fulfill the pervasive task of cleansing and removing the rottenness in the state of Denmark. Would the accomplishment of Hamlet�s pervasive project result in his maturity�a maturity not possessed that denied his rightful status, as King of Denmark.

Hamlet�s third soliloquy invites the dark and fearful discovery of his secrets and thoughts. His initial configurations leads to a substantial definition of his inner state and his struggle to find an immediate solution, �And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o�er with pale cast of thought� (3.1.84-5). Hamlet�s apparent repudiation of his dilemma, helps to interpret his fleeting desire to escape, �That flesh is heir to: �tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wish�d. To die, to sleep; / To sleep, perchance to dream�ay, there�s the rub: / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause�there�s the respect / That make calamity of so long life� (3.1.64-9).

Hamlet�s unfortunate hesitancy results in a competitive and expeditious thought process of relinquishing images of a doomed life when he imagines himself and all of mankind as insects when he asks, �what should such fellows as I do crawling between / earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all, believe / none of us� (3.1
128-30). Hamlet�s fierce soliloquies, harmonize and explicate his moral values and his judgements. Hamlet�s thoughts trap him in a tragic centripetal motion, which positions him where he was at the beginning of his first soliloquy, �O that this too too sullied 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! God!� (1.2.129-32). Even though his �sullied flesh� moves through a world of shadows and sorrow, his conscience dwells on the aspects of sleep�death�annihilation. His pretentious expressions suggest that he would allow the exchange of one dreaded reality or nightmare, for death, a concept only comprehendible by an individual who believes in immortality. No one but Shakespeare could have brilliantly constructed this dramatic excitement and intrigue in one soliloquy. The soliloquy results in an audacity that overwhelms and arouses pity among the audience. Hamlet�s current relation with Ophelia reminds him of nothing except, �the pangs of dispriz�d love� (3.1.72). His exclamation, �The Fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons / Be all my sins remembered� (3.1-89-90), contains no trace of tenderness, affection, or warmth, but does contain the deadly taste of irony. With reference to Hamlet�s last line, it proves his generalized disappointment in womankind. Ophelia�s presence enlarges his sins, sins that have watered the seeds of suspicion and hatred. Hamlet�s distasteful use of language has proved that his feelings for her have diverted from that of mere love. Hamlet�s third soliloquy is the pinnacle of his self-reflective revelations and realizations, which results in the action of Act 3 intensifying.

In all three of Hamlet�s soliloquies, Hamlet provides a concise and lucid introduction to his current disposition, which is exemplified by his constantly changing intellectual viewpoint. Hamlet tries to confront the central enigma of his delayed revenge, which has been confined at the crossroads of Christian and the classical traditions. In Hamlet�s first soliloquy, the audience is a crucial witness to Hamlet�s initial suppressed sentiments. His tragedy stems from the tragic fact that he is placed in a position to carry out the barbarous ancient pagan task of the murder of Claudius, when in reality he is incapable of doing so. The melancholic events occasioned by his father�s death and above all his mother�s hasty remarriage, causes Hamlet to loose faith in Gertrude and this mental paralysis consumes his mind. Hamlet�s inactive nature to pursue his task of vengeance brings despair and anger, in the second soliloquy. Hamlet�s procrastination brings doubt to his capabilities and whether he can actually act heroically at different circumstances. Hamlet remains to this very day, a peculiar tragic hero, a hero that profoundly reflects on all sides of an issue and is �promoted to my revenge by heaven and hell� (2.2.580). The question arises as to whether the audience still empathizes with Hamlet even when he questions, �Who calls me villain, break my pate across / Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face, / Tweaks me by the nose, give me the lie i� th� throat / As deep as to the lungs�who does me this?� (2.2.567-69). Although Hamlet�s situation is genuinely problematic, one must give credit to his devious plan to obtain a public omission of guilt from Claudius by creating a scenario strikingly similar to the actual murder of King Hamlet. One wonders whether his inability to look within himself, will result in him not being able to effectively deal with Claudius. What astonishes me is the mystery that surrounds his hesitation. As soon as he learns of the guilt of his uncle, Claudius, Hamlet promises, �Haste me to know�t, that I with wings as swift / As mediation or the thoughts of love / May sweep to my revenge� (1.5.29-30). Yet he still delays in taking his revenge on the man who murdered his beloved father? His frustrations and impediments he faces along the way have resulted in the explosion of actions in Act 3. Hamlet�s feelings for his mother, Gertrude, are an important element of this play. His dramatic encounter with Gertrude in Act 3, shows his sudden ability to lose emotional control. Hamlet�s pathological metaphors and verbal attacks, reveal his apparent ruthless nature that eventually takes a toll on his mother mentally, �O Hamlet, speak no more / Thou turn�st my eyes into my very soul, / And there I see such black and grained spots / As will not leave their tinct� (3.4.88-91).

When Hamlet�s emotions take control of his conscience, the audience becomes aware of his weak and irresolute course of vengeance. Hamlet�s generalizing tendency causes him to loose sight of his simple and straightforward instructions, �Let not the royal bed of Denmark be / A couch for luxury and damned incest, / But howsomever thou puruest this act, / Taint not thy mind or let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother caught. Leave her to heaven / And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge / To prick and sting her� (1.5.82-88). Can Hamlet possibly fulfill the wishes of the ghost? Will Hamlet be able to exact out revenge without tainting his mind? One can certainly condemn him for his failure not to act, but after analyzing his character, there is a distinct aura about his character, that causes the audience to admire him. Hamlet�s difficulties are not merely his, but are reflective of many current issues in today�s era. What is fascinating about Hamlet�s story is the resonance and significance that takes root in the audience�s hearts and a genuine sense is felt, that he will be successful and will overcome this classical mould of the tragic hero. As Frye once said, �In tragedy, the typical effect on the audience is traditionally assumed to be a catharsis, a word that has something to do with purification, whatever else it means. Hamlet seems to me a tragedy without a catharsis, a tragedy in which everything noble and heroic is smothered under ferocious revenge codes, treachery, spying, and the consequences of weak actions by broken wills.�

Throughout Act 3, Hamlet is allowed to vent his bottled up emotions resulting is baffling conversations between Ophelia and Gertrude, and his sudden killing of Polonius. The audience is now given the ability to contemplate whether Hamlet will perform will perform his act of vengeance, by murdering Claudius. As the suspense builds, one can only wish that his contemplation of suicide is gone, his weak imaginations of his mother and Ophelia are over with, and his struggles result in him being King. As Sir James Paget once said, �Whenever a person cannot bring himself to do something that every conscious consideration tells him he should do�and which he may have the strongest conscious desire to do it, is always because there is some hidden reason why a part of him doesn�t want to do it; the reason he will not own to himself and is only dimly if at all aware of it. That is exactly the case with Hamlet.�

David S said...

The Soliloquies


The tragic flaw in a tragedy is the flaw in a character that leads to his ruin and downfall. The thing that people love about Hamlet is his ability to think and have intellectual knowledge to assess situations. On the other hand, his thinking causes him not follow through on any action and causes him to doubt himself. Through the first three acts of Hamlet, the soliloquies given by Hamlet show his tragic flaw and with each soliloquy, get closer and closer to the sudden increase of action in Act 3.

In the first soliloquy of Hamlet, it represents and shows Hamlet’s sense of obligation to his father and the anger at his mother. When Hamlet says “My father’s brother-but no more like my father/ Then I to Hercules” (1.2.152-153), it is showing that he had his father in high regard and that his uncle will never be as good a king has his father was. “She married- O most wicked speed! To post/With such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (1.2.156-157). When Hamlet says this, it shows that he is not happy with his mother marrying his uncle and that she did not show any mourning towards her husband. At this point, Hamlet does not know his father was murdered and has yet to see the Ghost. It reveals Hamlet’s over thinking nature at the beginning of the play and how it affects him for the rest of the play.

When Hamlet says his second soliloquy, it is showing Hamlet’s reluctance to act as well as his over analyzing of situations. For example, when Hamlet is saying “That I, the son of a dear father murder’d/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” (2.2.579-582), he is saying that he has all the reasons in the world to kill his uncle, but he can not follow through because he is thinking to much. “The spirit I have seen/May be a devil, and the devil hath power […] Abuses me to damn me” (2.2.594-599). With this, Hamlet voices his own doubts about the Ghost that he saw and thinks that it may be the devil trying to trick him. This is showing Hamlet is thinking too much and is convincing himself that maybe the Ghost is evil and then he will not have to fulfill his obligation.

With the third soliloquy, it combines both conflicts for Hamlet by showing how his obligation takes precedent and how this leads towards the explosive action. The combination of the two conflicts is sown very early in the soliloquy when Hamlet says “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or take arms against a sea of troubles/And by opposing end them” (3.1.56-60). This is saying that Hamlet is deciding whether he should follow through with the obligation to his father or should he stop himself from committing an act that he knows is wrong. With that quote, it shows from the first two soliloquies that he was only thinking about doing something and making excuses for himself when he did not commit the deed. Now that he feels something needs to be done, he is going to put his thinking aside and create action. In Lines 75-90, he is deciding on the decision to either take action or to sit back and do nothing.

The tragic flaw of all characters is at one point their greatest attribute. With Hamlet, his thinking had made him into the intellectual of the play. Once the decision is made on whether he will act or not, Hamlet changes from being the thinking and intellectual man to the action and no thought hero.

Trisha F said...

Each soliloquy delivered by Hamlet in the first three acts of Hamlet: Price of Denmark provides the audience with the main character’s perspective, and ultimately build towards the explosion which takes place in Act 3. Hamlet reveals his innermost thoughts and feelings about the destructive state of Denmark, the unfortunate events which have directly affected him, and specifically, the challenge he is facing to react to these events.

The first soliloquy, found in Scene 2 of Act 1, focuses on Hamlet questioning his purpose in life, and displays his feelings about three specific issues: the sudden death of his father, his uncle replacing his late father on the throne, and his mother’s re-marriage to his uncle. Hamlet is experiencing suicidal feelings, and the only thing that is stopping him from ending his life is the fact that he is a Christian, and in the eyes of God, killing yourself is a mortal sin. In this particular soliloquy, not only does Hamlet discuss Claudius’ incapability of replacing his late father as King, he shares his thoughts about Claudius’ personality. When he states: “Hyperion to a satyr” (1.II:140), he is comparing his father to his uncle, and further proves his dislike for Claudius. Hamlet presents a misogynistic side when he talks about his mother marrying his uncle, almost immediately after his father’s funeral. His feelings of betrayal by his mother are reflected in his view of females: “Frailty, thy name is woman” (1.II:146). Hamlet’s hatred for his uncle and lack of respect for his mother drastically grows throughout the story and is the reason for Hamlet’s fundamental goal to murder Claudius.

Found in Act 2 Scene 2, Hamlet’s second soliloquy deals with his feelings about being a coward, and his new-found determination to carry-out his plan of entrapping Claudius. After seeing the players acting, he is intrigued by their ability of showing such strong emotion in drama. Hamlet finds it difficult to deal with the fact that he is not able to express that same emotion in a real life situation with real-life grief. This causes him to feel like a coward for letting his indecisiveness thoughts prevent him from following through with his plan to seek revenge on his uncle for killing his father. After realizing that it is pointless to be angry about not yet killing Claudius, Hamlet goes into detail about his plan to use the players to entrap Claudius. This proves Hamlet to be quite resourceful and intelligent. At this point, he is not completely sure that the ghost which appeared to him was, in fact, the spirit of his father. Therefore, his plan is to observe his uncle’s reactions while the players perform "The Murder of Gonzago". This will provide substantial proof that Claudius killed the late King Hamlet: “The spirit that I have seen/ May be a devil, and the devil hath power/ T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps, / Out of my weakness and my melancholy, / As he is very potent with such spirits, / Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds/ More relative than this. The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” (2.II.594-601) This soliloquy directs the plot toward point where it is confirmed that Claudius murdered Hamlet’s father. This allows Hamlet to further develop his plan to seek revenge.

Perhaps the most well-known soliloquy in the play delivered by Hamlet is found in Scene 1 of Act 3 where Hamlet questions his existence and concentrates on his continuous struggle for a solution. As a tragic hero, Hamlet’s flaw is his inability to follow through with his plans of revenge. His conscience continues to be the main factor which prevents him from killing Claudius. In this soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates suicide and questions afterlife. He wonders what will happen to him when he dies, and fears what is waiting for him. However, he also knows that is he does commit suicide, he will be escaping from all of life’s abundant problems, and he will no longer have to suffer with time-which is Hamlet’s main issue throughout the play. Time is Hamlet’s worst enemy, and this causes him to be up against unbeatable odds. “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, / Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, / The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay, / The insolence of office, and the spurns” (3.II.70-74). Hamlet’s procrastination can be accounted for throughout the play, and causes him to feel like a coward. For instance, in scene 3 of Act 3, Hamlet has the perfect opportunity to kill the King, however he does not go through with it because he assumed the King was preying, when in actuality he was just kneeling.

As the play progresses, Hamlet’s melancholy state allows his mood to completely change from indecisive to impulsive. This is when the explosion of Act 3 takes place when Hamlet murders Polonius. When he was talking to Queen Gertrude he noticed he was being spied on. Assuming it was Claudius, he acted without thinking and committed murder: “In his lawless fit, / Behind the arras hearing something stir, / Whips out his rapier, cries ‘A rat, a rat’, / And in this brainish apprehension kills/ The unseen good old man.” (4.I.8-12). This quote, delivered by Gertrude to Claudius explains the recent bizarre event that she witnessed. This proves that Hamlet has jumped from one extreme to another, and there is no telling what he might do next.

The soliloquies found in the first three acts of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, demonstrate Hamlet’s built up thoughts and feelings which lead to the unexpected outburst of emotion. It is inevitable that eventually he would have to face his ongoing struggle for a solution. Perhaps just like a chess game, the suspense makes the audience wonder what Hamlet’s next move will be.

Indra D said...

The Ultimate Explosion of Hamlet

Northrop Frye once said, “Hamlet is a revenge tragedy, and for a revenge tragedy we need a minimum of three major characters: a figure to get murdered, a murderer, and an avenger” (from Northrop Frye’s University Notes). Throughout this play, we never got to see Hamlet really act. He was always full of talk; nevertheless, he never acted on it. After seeing the play he wrote acted by one of the players, Hamlet realized that he must take action. He must stop thinking about suicide and death, and he must avenge his father’s death. The first 3 soliloquies in Hamlet all build up to Hamlet becoming an actor and taking action in Act 3. Prior to this scene, Hamlet has been keeping emotions bottled up and acting all crazy. As a result of this, Hamlet takes charge and let’s loose of some emotions left inside.

In Hamlets first soliloquy found in Act 1, his main focus and discussion was about suicide. He was mad at the fact that suicide was a sin and he continues to talk about how pointless life is to him, “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, / Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d/ His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God! God! / How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/ seem to me all the uses of this world!” (I.ii.129-134). Hamlet has been through an emotional roller coaster and he is confused about how to deal with it. He does not know how to act or what to do. Hamlet does not know how to feel because so much has happened, “It is not, nor it cannot come to good. / But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue” (I.ii.158-159). When comparing this soliloquy to the explosion in Act 3, there is a difference between Hamlets attitude and actions. In Act 1, Hamlet was unsure of what to feel and how to act. On the other hand, in Act 3, Hamlet lets go of everything and he shows some action. He freaks out on Ophelia and tells her that he wants her to go to a nunnery, “Get thee to a nunnery, / farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a/ fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters/ you make of them. To a nunnery, go-and quickly/ too. Farewell” (III.i.138-142). Hamlet is either telling Ophelia that he wants nothing to do with her, or he cares so much for her that he wants her to be safe. This is just one of the examples, that we see a change in Hamlets character. He has started to act and the first thing he does is separate himself from Ophelia. I felt sympathy for Hamlet because of his relationship with Ophelia. She separated herself from him because she had filial obligation towards her father. Northrop Frye once talked about in his notes how the audience usually sympathizes with Hamlet, “We sympathize with Hamlet even though the man who kills him is another avenger” (from Northrop Frye’s University Notes).

In the same way, Hamlets second soliloquy relates to the outcome at the end of Act 3. After seeing the emotions from the player, Hamlet decides to take some drastic action, “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! / Is it not monstrous that this player here,/ But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,/ could force his soul so to his own conceit/ That from her working all his visage wann’d/ Tears in his suiting/ With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!” (II.ii.544-551). Hamlet realizes that he can actually act and complete his mission. He compares himself to this player who is acting for nothing but puts a lot of emotions into his work. Hamlet then remembers his mission and decides to make a skit about his father’s death to see the reaction of the King. When comparing this soliloquy to Act 3, Hamlet is not scared to act and he is not scared of death, “And by opposing end them. To die-to sleep, / No more; And by a sleep to say we end/ The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is hier to: ‘tis a consummation” (III.i.60-63). It has taken Hamlet a while to act, however, when he does, he sets out to achieve a goal. When comparing Act 3 to some of the quotes stated by Hamlet in the beginning, he has gone through a lot of changes. He is no longer scared of death and he is ready to go down with a fight.

Another statement from Northrop Frye is, “We see Hamlet in so many roles: Curious that the one role we never see him in, the military one, is the one mentioned by Fortinbras” (from Northrop Frye’s University Notes). This statement relates to the fact that up until Act 3, we never got to see the true military side of Hamlet. A lot of the characters thought that Hamlet could not act. They all thought of him as being crazy and easily influenced, “S’blood, do you think I/ am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what/ instrument you will, though you fret me, you cannot/ play upon me” (III.ii.360-363). Hamlet shows them that he is smarter than them, and no matter what they say or do, he will always win.

The three soliloquies of Hamlet are a bottle of mixed emotions that are waiting to be released. The fact that all these important events have happened and Hamlet still cannot find the time to complete his task. That is one of the many reasons why Hamlet lashed out on his mother and Ophelia. He managed to treat his mother like dirt, humiliate Ophelia and kill Polonius. The death of Polonius made a lot of the other characters take Hamlet seriously. His mother tried to justify the fact that Hamlet felt bad for killing Polonius when he truly did not. Hamlet is sick of thinking about death and what will happen in the end. He realizes that if he runs away from everything, he does not know what is waiting for him on the other side.

All in all, Hamlet has accepted the fact that being scared about death is just like being a coward. He realizes that at this point in the play, he must act and do what he has been set out to do. All of his mixed emotions have been released, causing him to lash out at both his mother and Ophelia and killing Polonius. The first 2 soliloquy’s talk about all the fears and doubts found inside of Hamlet. When he realizes what he must do, he decides to become an actor and in Act 3, he decides to take action.

Indra D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael M said...

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, considered one of the greatest dramatic works ever written, has a number of significant themes, the most crucial being the contemplation of action. It is a rather philosophical theme; Shakespeare delves into the human mind to display the most tormented parts of it. In the first three soliloquies of the play the audience witnesses a young man facing problems that are not that terribly difficult to empathize with. Psychoanalysis can be applied to Hamlet’s thoughts to reveal that he suffers from a mental disparity known as neurosis. His obsessive thoughts cause him great guilt, depression and fear but they never affect his ability to think rationally. Hamlet’s first soliloquy exposes his initial source of melancholy- his father’s death and his mother’s infidelity. Hamlet then contemplates suicide and rejects the idea by accepting his Christian morals. In Act 2, Scene 2 Hamlet expresses his disgust with his lack of action; his inability to commit his uncle’s murder. The construction of the play’s climax is mostly fueled by Hamlet’s third soliloquy. Shakespeare did not intend for his works to be studied meticulously however, when one examines Hamlet’s words carefully the source of his lack of action can be attributed to his neurosis. Ultimately it is Hamlet’s own instinct that takes over and allows his conscience to no longer make him a coward. The culmination of the play that is Act 3 is the murder of Polonius. Hamlet’s unconscious instinct is what ultimately forces him to act in order to solve his problems.

“Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d/ His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God! God/ How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable/ Seem to me all the uses of this world!” (1.2 131-133). If Hamlet’s first soliloquy displays anything about his character, it is his nihilistic view of the world. Hamlet plainly wants death, but nothing is ever that simple in his mind. He takes time to consider the positives and negatives of death, something that he continues to do throughout the rest of the play. When Hamlet refers to the Everlasting he is speaking of his obligation to God. At this point in the play Hamlet is a rational man, he would not act out of impulse. He chooses not to end his life so that he would not have to suffer the fires of hell. This is but one example of Hamlet’s thoughts stopping his actions. In Act 2, Scene 2 Hamlet’s constricting thoughts are fleshed out in his second soliloquy. “O what rogue and peasant slave am I! / Is it not monstrous that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,/ Could force his soul so to his own conceit” (2.2 544-547) Hamlet has just witnessed a player recite a speech about the fall of Troy and it’s King Priam and Queen Hecuba, which brings tears to the eyes of the actor. He speaks of how much he admires the actor’s skill; how this man could summon up such emotion about matters that have nothing to do with him. “What would he do/ Had he the motive and cue for passion/ That I have? He would drown the stage with tears, / and cleave the general ear with horrid speech, / Make mad the guilty and appal the free”(2.2 554-558). Hamlet expresses how he is jealous of others who have the courage to do what they feel is right, especially when his motives are conflicted. This speech brings up the parallelism between Hamlet and Fortinbras and illustrates Hamlet neurosis even more. Had Hamlet not taken the time to formulate a plan to murder Claudius and consider every single option available to him he would be able to commit the deed. “I should ha’ fatted all region kites/ With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! / Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles villain! / Why, What an ass am I! This is most brave / That I, The son of a dear father murder’d, / Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, / Must like a whore unpack my heart with words.” (2.2 575-581) Hamlet agrees that a man in his position that had the same motives would have taken action; he seems to be the only person holding himself back and he is aware of this, yet he cannot bring himself to change his mind. Hamlet is prompted by heaven and hell to avenge his father’s death, but he is stuck, he is indecisive because he is fearful of the consequences. Thus, again his words express how his thoughts and ideas prevent his action.

There are several points when the audience can pin point Hamlet’s disgust with his thoughts. Where as the first two soliloquies were full of indecision, in Hamlet’s last monologue he comes to many logical conclusions. “To be, or not to be, that is the question:/ Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them.” (3.1 56-60). Hamlet, again, is contemplating his place in the universe. According to him, his life is horrible and the audience does not blame him for complaining. As is the custom with Shakespeare’s soliloquies Hamlet begins with a question, whether it is better to suffer the tragedies of life or to end one’s own life. He obsesses over death in his three soliloquies; it is the primary concern whenever Hamlet thinks of his filial obligation. “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (3.1 66). Hamlet is thinking of what will come after death, the reason and the dread that consumes his thoughts and permits him from ending his life. He continues to meditate on the other problems that plague him in medieval Europe, his issues with love, the law’s delay and the corrupt government. Hamlet then asks what kind of person would bear this weary life and why. Before Hamlet asks this he knows the reason why, for they are the reasons he fails to end his life and murder his uncle. “But that dread of something after death…/ Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, / And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.” (3.1 78-85). Hamlet’s line about conscience sums up most of his character, he admits that he contemplates his action too much. The human mind is a powerful thing, it has the ability to change and grow. Hamlet’s thoughts have reached their peak, so far he has examined all the aspects of his indecision, he has cornered himself and has no where to go. These thoughts and deliberations lead him only to one place, the climax of Act 3, the murder of Polonius.

Hamlet’s state of mind changes greatly as his character does. First he contemplates suicide, he speaks of courage and examines his own existential feelings. Hamlet’s decision to murder Polonius is done out of impulse, he acts without thinking for the first time in the play. Hamlet’s thinking stops and his non-human instinct takes over (I refer here to Peter Singer’s theory of speciesism), this instinct allows him to perform the murder. Subconsciously, Hamlet wishes so badly that his antic disposition be solved that he thrusts his sword blindly. Hamlet hopes that Claudius is behind the arras; to kind the king would be the perfect solution to his problems- he would fulfill his obligation to his father, escape from his prision of Denmark and finally be free. Hamlet nurosis finally gets the best of him and he lashes out irrationally, something that he would done earlier in the play had it not been written by shakespeare. Hamlet’s mind has broken free from it’s cage and he has finally taken action. In the words of the great Bob Dylan “It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe”.

victoria c said...

Through out the first three acts, Hamlet shares his feelings with the audience using soliloquies. He wants to seek revenge, loses his sanity, and begins to have suicidal thoughts and feelings of self loathing, which eventually leads him to kill Polonius. The events that preceded the climax were all in reference to Hamlet’s three soliloquies.

Hamlet first speaks to the audience alone after a discussion with the King and Queen in Act 1, Scene 2. This is the first time Hamlet talks about killing himself. “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God! God!” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 132) He sees this as the only reason not the commit suicide at the time because he knows it is a sin. His hatred for women begins to develop, as well as his jealousy of Claudius. “Let me not think on’t—Frailty, thy name is women—“ (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 146) He is angry that his mother re-married so quickly and uses this to formulate an opinion of all women. His jealously of Claudius builds up because he has unrightfully become King and married Gertrude. The Oedipus complex can also be seen in Hamlet because although he is angry with his mother he is also jealous that she is with another man. He feels that his position has been taken away from him. The Oedipus complex deals with an unconscious desire for the son to take the position of the father and be with his mother, it relates to Hamlet because he wants to be with his mother. Hamlet shows signs of self loathing and low self esteem when he is talking badly about Claudius and comparing him to his father, “My father’s brother—but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 152-153) He is also demeaning himself by making this statement.

At this point in the play, Hamlet becomes determined to expose Claudius as a murderer and wants to use a play to evoke his guilty conscience. He seeks help from the players, “Is it not monstrous that this player here, / But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, / Could force his soul so to his own conceit” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 545-547). Once again we see Hamlet’s self loathing, “Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i’th’throat / As deep to the lungs—who does me this?” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 569-170) Hamlet is beginning to see his own madness and is trying to rationalize what is happening, “The spirit that I have seen / May be the devil, and the devil hath power / T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps, / Out of my weakness and my melancholy, / As he is very potent with such spirits, / Abuses me to damn me […]” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 594-599) He questions his sanity while wondering if he has seen the ghost, he is thinking it may be the devil who is toying with his emotions. He still seeks revenge upon Claudius, “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 600-601). This closing line of his second soliloquy shows his dedication.

In the final soliloquy before the climax occurs Hamlet is still debating if life is worth living, “To be, or not to be, that is the question” (Act 3, Scene 1, Line 56). Hamlet is wondering if he should just accept what is happening or keep fighting against it by following through with his plan. He decides that he does not want to accept it, “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind the suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or take arms against a sea of troubles” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 57-59). When Hamlet is talking about sleep, he is referring to death, “And by the opposing end them. To die—to sleep, / No more; and by asleep to say we end / The heartache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation / Devoutly to wish’d. To die, to sleep” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 66-69). Hamlet reveals his reasoning for having suicidal thoughts. “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, / Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, / The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay, / The insolence of office, and the spurns / That patient merit of th’unworthy takes, / When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin?[…]” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 70-76) He is saying why grow old, live in an unfair world, and have to suffer injustice when he can kill himself and be free. At this point, he feels he has no more reason to live. Although he strongly wishes death upon himself, he is holding back, “Who would fardels bear, / To grunt and sweat under a weary life, / But that the dread of something after death, / The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn / No travel or returns, puzzles the will, / And makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of?” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 75-82). The only thing keeping him from killing himself is because he knows nothing about the afterlife. He is scared of dying because he says that there is no way for anyone to know what happens after you die. Hamlet also fears that if he commits suicide instead of dying a natural death, he will not go to heaven and will remain in purgatory like his father. He says that the thought of death and afterlife can make a coward of anyone due to the fact that all humans fear what they do not understand, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, / And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 83-85). When he says the native hue of resolution and pale cast of thought, he is referring to how people go pale at the thought of death because it is so frightening. “And enterprises of great pitch and moment / With this regard their currents turn awry / And lose the name of action[…]” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 86-88). What Hamlet means by this is that even the bravest people will abandon the most important thing or meaningful task if they are faced with death. The last few lines in his soliloquy describe that Hamlet still has feelings for Ophelia. This soliloquy continues to exploit Hamlet’s self loathing and suicide. His suicidal way of thinking is linked with his self loathing because he feels that there is no reason to fight for his life because it is not worth the struggle. He thinks a lot about death but talks more about the actual afterlife.


Ultimately, the events leading up to the climax are all expressed very well in each soliloquy. Hamlet wants to seek revenge, goes insane, and has suicidal thoughts and feelings of self loathing which all contribute to his state when he kills Polonius.

Jonathan C said...

Hamlet Soliloquies

"O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,/Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,/Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd/His cannon 'gainst self slaughter."
(1.2.129-132).In this first few lines, Hamlet talks about death.He wants to commit suicide. He wants to die because his life turned around.He is disappionted at his mother,Gertrude, because she married to his uncle,Claudius, who Hamlet thinks that Claudius does not desrve to be king. He says that Gertrude does not care about King Hamlet's death."Frailty, thy name is woman-/A little month, or ere those shoes were old/With which she follow'd my poor father's body."(1.2.146-149).This soliloquy biulds up towards the explosion later on the play because this reveals Hamlet's personlity and his anger towards Claudius. His patience to Claudius will eventually have consequences.This changes Hamlet's attitude in the play becomes and an important character in the climax.

Hamlet's second soliloquy happens after the first player acts a speech that was very emotional.O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!/Is it not monstrous that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,/Could force his soul so to his own conceit/That from her working all his visage wann'd,/Tears in his eyes,distraction in his aspect,/A broken voice, and his whole function suiting/With forms to his conceit?And all for nothing!"(2.2.543-551).In these first few lines of the soliloquy,Hamlet curses to himself and comments the player who gave the speech.Hamlet talks about how the player was able to put feeling in his speech and expressions and it means to nothing to the prince.This catches Hamlet's attention and makes a trap for King Claudius."I'll have these players/Play something like the murder of my father/Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks."(2.2.590-593). "The play's the thing/Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."(2.2.600-601).Hamlet is going to prepare a play that resembles King Hamlet's death.He will invite King Claudius and during the play,Hamlet will see the King's expression when it comes to the murders scene. If Claudius feels giuly then Hamlet has proof that it was his uncle who murdered his father.This solilquy leads to the explosion because now Hamlet knows something about Claudius and wil make him feel giulty for what he has done.This will lead to big surprises because Claudius knows about Hamlet's plot and will do anything to eliminate him.

"To or not to be, that is the question:/Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And by opposing end them."(3.1.56-60).Hamlet talks about killing himself or to live.He decides to commit suicide or not.He states "To die-to sleep,/No more;and by a sleep to say we end/The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to."(3.1.60-64). Hamlet compares sleep and death. He is saying that if he sleeps then all the suffering,pain,and misery will go away.This soliloquy reveals Hamlet's mind about death and what he really wants.He is furious because he wants to find a solution to end his pain.He can not decide to kill himslef or to kill Claudius who killed Hamlet's father.Hamlet will eventually become a character that does not have feelings for others and will make more enemies in the play.

Olivia C said...

Each of the three Soliloqiues that Hamlet delivered in the first three Acts shows how Hamlet will eventually lead to act on his thoughts.

In the first Soliloquy; Act 1 Scene 2. Hamlet is speaking about how he wants to die. He wishes that God never made a law against suicide. Hamlet views death as a “way out”.He sees it as an escape from his prison of thoughts that torments him. In this Soliloquy Hamlet also speaks about his anger towards his mother. He is angry with his mother because she not only remarried very quickly after his father’s death, the person she married is his uncle. “O most wicked speed to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets” ( I.ii.156-157). Hamlet is clearly disgusted with his mother’s action; but he does not voice his feelings or concern to her: “But break, my heart, for I must hold, my tongue” (I. ii. 159). Hamlet is bottling up his emotions by “holding his tongue”. This causes Hamlet to have an outburst of emotions which was displayed in Act III.“ And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows / as false as dicers’ oath-oh, such a deed as from the body of concentration plucks I the very soul, and sweet religions / a rhapsody of words / Heaven’s face doth glow / O’er this solidity and compound mass / with tristful visage, as against the doom / is thought-sick at the act.” (III. iv. 44-51).

In the above quote Hamlet is speaking to his mother. He eventually tells her how he really feels about her marriage to Claudius. Hamlet is beginning to release his bottled up emotions.

In Hamlet’s second Soliloquy , Hamlet is frustrated with is inability to perform the task given to him by his father. In this soliloquy, Hamlet is analyzing and comparing himself to an actor. “Is it not monstrous that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion / could foresee his soul so to his own conceit / that from her working all his visage waned / tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect / A broken voice. And his whole function suiting / with forms to conceit? And all for nothing / For Hebuca! ( II .ii. 545-552)

Hamlet notices how the actor puts so much passion his fake character with fake emotions. Yet, he himself has so many real emotions and feelings that but feels limited in his ability to express these to his satisfaction. Hamlet is calling himself a coward; he has so much to act upon, with valid reasons to do so but he cannot completely expression his emotions or express his feelings. This soliloquy also shows how Hamlet becomes aggravated in Act 3 “You would pluck out the / heart of my mystery, you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is / much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet / cannot you make it speak. S’blood, do you think I / am easier to be played than a pipe / Call me what instrument you will, thought you fret me, you cannot play upon me”(III, ii , 355-363). In this quote Hamlet is speaking to Guilderstern. He is frustrated that his friend thinks that he is can be easily deceived. Hamlet’s friend Guildenstern believes that Hamlet is an easy prey; because he thinks that Hamlet is not thinking straight. Guildersten is wrong regarding his assumption of Hamlet. The Acts that led to this discussion with Guildertern shows that Hamlet is a thinker. He thinks more that he acts. Hamlet is frustrated and therefore voices his opinion of truth to Guilderstern.

The last siloquay is in Act III Hamlet is once again speaking about death. He is speaking about the after life, and what happens to humans after they die. “To be or not be that is the question” ( III,i,56). Hamlet questions, life and death. Is it better to life or to die? In these lines, Hamlet is viewing death as an escape from his troubles.

Hamlet rationalized his thoughts on a continuous basis. He speaks about how his actions have become miscarried and have stopped being actions all together; they have become thoughts. “Is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thoughts / and enterprises of great pitch and moment / with this regard their current turns awry / and lose the name of action”( III,i,85-88). This miscarriage of action is the root of Hamlets explosion in Act III. He can no longer tolerate himself being crippled by his thoughts; he becomes aggravated and erupts with emotions.

Frank F said...

Hamlet Re-born!

There is no doubt that when faced with a problem, necessary preparations are needed in order to successfully complete the task. In Hamlet’s case, the young Prince is faced with the task of killing his uncle, King Claudius. Hamlet takes much time to think over his mission, and in doing so provides three magnificent soliloquies in the first three acts of the play. Hamlet’s third soliloquy in particular, is one which leads to Hamlet finally taking serious action. It is clear that in his final soliloquy, Hamlet convinces himself that he must take action and needs to stop talking about what he is going to do, and just do it.

Hamlet’s soliloquy in the first scene of act three is most definitely a turning point for the troubled young man. Hamlet talks about suicide, which is something he has previously contemplated. Hamlet explains, “Not traveller returns, puzzles the will,/ And makes us rather bear those ills we have/ Than fly to others that we know not of?”(3.1.80-82). Hamlet puts forth the idea that individuals would rather suffer with the problems that they are faced with in the real world than have to die because no person has any insight on what being dead is like. By expressing this feeling, Hamlet has begun to convince himself that suicide is not the right path for him. He has also expressed that he must fix his problem, which calls for some action. Hamlet also articulates “And thus the native hue of resolution/ Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” (3.1.84-85). Very simply, Hamlet explains that too much thinking and no action in regards to an issue will only leave the issue unsettled. Hamlet has directed this towards himself, and has realized that all his thinking and planning to kill his uncle Claudius has come to nothing because of his lack of action. At this very moment, it can be presumed that Hamlet has finally convinced himself to take action, and stop sinking into his thoughts. All in all, Hamlet has finally convinced himself to resort to action and bring an end to his in depth thoughts.

Hamlet has at last begun to put his words into action. One of the first steps Hamlet takes to go through with his plan is to direct the play. This play is set up by Hamlet as it will re-enact the murder of King Hamlet right in front of the murderer Claudius. Hamlet devises a plan with Horatio and explains to him “For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,/ And after we will both our judgments join/ In censure of his seeming” (3.2.85-87). Hamlet and Horatio will watch the reaction of Claudius when the scene of the King being murdered is shown. To their delight Claudius calls a stop to the play and runs out. Hamlet’s first part of his actions has worked wonderfully in his favour, as without saying it, Claudius has admitted to committing the murder. At this point, the re-born Hamlet is full of emotion and wants to continue his actions as they clearly have a positive result. Hamlet‘s next action is confronting his mother, something which Hamlet has been avoiding. Hamlet is fired up and proclaims “I will speak daggers to her, but use none.” (3.3.387). Hamlet is eager to continue acting on his emotions that have been bottling up in him for this extended amount of time. Hamlet wants to question his mother and finally let her know how he feels, and wants to tell her his knowledge of the murder. The explosion of action has only begun as it seems Hamlet will not stop until his deed is done.

With Hamlet full of emotion and ready to act on anything he sees fit, there is no surprise when what happens next unfolds. While Hamlet confronts his mother, he is acting brash and seemingly upset. Little does Hamlet know that Polonius is hiding within the room. When Hamlet begins shouting at his mother, she screams for help and Polonius makes a noise from behind an arras. In the climax of the play, Hamlet whips out his sword, and stabs through the arras while proclaiming “How now? A rat! Dead for a ducat, dead” (3.4.23). Hamlet at this point has killed Polonius, the highest level of action taken by Hamlet yet. Hamlet has instantly impacted every character in the play as the repercussions for such an act will be enormous. The rage shown by Hamlet is something that he would have rather put toward killing Claudius than Polonius. With the emotion shown by Hamlet, it is rather ironic how he went from all thought and no action, to all action and his thoughts being overpowered by emotions. At one point, Hamlet admits to his mother “I essentially am not in madness,/ But mad in craft” (3.4.189-190). Hamlet has come to the conclusion himself that his actions have been rather extreme, more specifically killing Polonius. Hamlet does not feel upset or have any remorse for killing Polonius, but admits the madness in his actions. Without a doubt, Hamlet has acted in a colossal manner, and from not acting at all to killing a man is unbelievable.

In conclusion, the tension build up to Hamlet’s action are clearly evident in his soliloquies. Hamlet continued to contemplate what he was determined to do but never acted upon it. Hamlet’s soliloquy in act three is most undeniably the turning point for Hamlet. From doing nothing, to doing everything, Hamlet finally reached the last straw, and exploded. This re-born Hamlet will have to deal with the consequences, and if his mentality stays the same, it will be quite intriguing.

Czarina A said...

“If There’s a Will There’s a Way”

We have defined in class that ‘a soliloquy is a moment of complete truth when a character says a speech when they are alone, or think that they are alone’. Shakespeare’s use of soliloquies in Hamlet is a form of art to give a further understanding of the character with regards to how they act and how they think. Hamlet delivers three soliloquies in the first three acts of the play that reveal his thoughts on death, revenge and the human self, giving justifications for the chain of events that follow in the act.

Hamlet’s first soliloquy introduces his personality. The first lines, “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew, or that the Everlasting had not fix’d his canon ‘gainst self slaughter. O God! God! How weary, stale flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!” (I.II.129-134) reveal that Hamlet has a dark personality- he sees that there is no more point in living, thus he wants to die. This personality is fuelled by his rush of emotions that result from the unfortunate events that have occurred, “she follow’d my poor father’s body… would have mourn’d longer- married with my uncle, my father’s brother… she married- O most wicked speed!” (I.II.148-156). His passionate rage comes from his mother’s marriage as well as his uncle’s coronation. Hamlet believes that Denmark has gone to waste and that there is something wrong in the kingdom, his concern for Denmark arises, “’tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” (I.II.135-137). His constant use of metaphors throughout his soliloquy also reveal that he is a man of intelligence- which means that he constantly searches for answers by thinking things through and analyzing situations; this would be a very important trait of Hamlet that constantly arises throughout the play.

Hamlet’s second soliloquy reveals how he takes action, or lack thereof, in order to avenge his father’s death.

“O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here, but in a fiction, in a dream of passion, could force his soul so to his own conceit that from her working all his visage wann'd, tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, a broken voice, and his whole function suiting with forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!” (II.II.544-551)

Hamlet begins his soliloquy by envying the actor’s ability to be so attached to the part he is performing that he can cause his body to feel the part even if it is all for nothing. He compares himself to the actor and sees that he is useless and one who lacks passion for his cause. “Yet I, a dull and muddy-mettled rascal… unpregnant for my cause, and can say nothing… Am I a coward? Who calls me a villain… gives me the lie i' th’ throat,
As deep as to the lungs- who does me this?” (II.II.561-570). He attacks himself because he sees himself as a weakling and feels that he has lied to the ghost that he will seek revenge since so far, he has done nothing at all. Hamlet finally concocts a plan, “I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play have, by the very cunning of the scene, been struck so to the soul that presently they have proclaim’d their malefactions. For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak” (II.II.584-589). He is still skeptic whether the ghost is truly is father and thinks that the ghost is a devil in disguise that wants him to be evil so that he‘ll end up in hell, “The spirit that I have seen may be a devil… out of my weakness and melancholy… abuses to damn me” (II.II. 594-599). Thus, instead of taking immediate action, he plans on showing a play that is similar to his father’s death and observe his uncle’s behaviours and wait for Claudius’ public omission of guilt to the murder of his King Hamlet- this way, he can have more reason for himself to seek revenge. The second soliloquy proves Hamlet’s ways of approaching problems- he carefully strategizes and uses his beautifully educated mind before he acts; thus Hamlet can either be seen as a brilliant strategist, or a huge procrastinator.

Act 3 is the climax of the play wherein a series of events will lead to the turning point of the play. Hamlet delivers another soliloquy before his plan is put into action.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. To die- to sleep, no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d” (III.I. 56-64).

He, once again, questions his actions. He lacks the confidence and passion for the revenge his father seeks that he had in the beginning of the play. He ponders on whether he should go through with his plan, or simply escape his wretched troubles by committing suicide. He questions his reason for continuing to exist since he only wishes to be free from all the chaos in his life. He finally finds the reason,

“There’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life… the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (III.I.69; 78-83).

Hamlet knows that he continues to face the hardships of life because he is afraid of not knowing what lies beyond death; being a man of knowledge, he feels insecure. He is unlike his father, King Hamlet, who constantly faced death with no fear in the battlefield. Notice that he constantly uses a generalized form, ‘us’ and ‘we’; it shows his ignorance to his own faults. Since he is constantly looking for answers, he looks for someone to blame, and when he realizes that it is himself, he adds in the comfort of knowing he is not alone in feeling his insecurities. “And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action” (III.I.84-88). He eventually realizes that his gift of thought, can lead to his downfall because it can weaken his will to act. “The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remember’d” (III.I.89-90). After he notices Ophelia, he asks her to pray for him for he concludes to himself that he will seek revenge, which he refers to as his sins. And thus, with this and his will no longer wavered, his plan commences.


William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a literary work of art, a collage of poetry, characters, dialogues, and soliloquies that come together and create a beautiful tragedy. Hamlet’s first three soliloquies reveals the true essence of his character. The eventful Act 3 depicts how Hamlet has grown within the time span of his father’s death until the fateful day of the ingenious strategy of the play. At last, Hamlet find his courage and conviction to avenge his father’s death after all his contemplation, procrastination and questioning. By the end of Act 3, Hamlet, fuelled by his passion for revenge, no longer runs away from his problems but strides towards it.

Crystina T said...

The soliloquies in Hamlet indicate the mental developments of the prince. The first soliloquy in Act I shows how Hamlet is outraged with the haste incestuous marriage between his mother and his uncle. However, he is unable to act and correct what he believes to be wrong. After confronting his father’s ghost, Hamlet is determined to avenge for his father; for one point his feelings are not guided by reasons (I, v, 92-112). Soon he realizes action alone can not satisfy his revenge, but only wise and appropriate action shall he undertake. As he has mentioned in his most famous soliloquy in Act III, “conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”, his courage has grown pale with too much thinking. He has procrastinated to take action to fulfill his obligation and promise to his father.

Part of his indecisiveness comes from how he over thinks a plan to avenge for the old king, another part of it comes from his concern of the validity of what the ghost has told him. The arrival of the actors allows Hamlet to develop a plan for entrapping his uncle. In his second soliloquy, he condemns himself for his inaction to be a sign of cowardice comparing to the determined action of Greek drama hero, “Yet I, a dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, and can say nothing!” (II, ii, 561-564). Being Moved by the strong emotions that the actor has performed, Hamlet seems to become a rational man of action, who is determined to carry out a plan that can, “catch the conscience of the king”. (II, ii, 601)

In his famous soliloquy in Act III, Hamlet has reverted to become the procrastinating prince that audiences have met in his first soliloquy. He has contemplated death at that time due to the devastation caused by his mother’s incestuous marriage. Now, he contemplates self-slaughter as the easy way out for all his problems. He asks himself the question that every person who struggles in times of great crisis will ponder:
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.” (III, I, 56-88).
He wonders whether it is better to respond passively to the trials of life or is it better to confront the problems. Nothing in this world is promising except death. People will suffer through everything that comes with life because the world after death is unknown and people fear that. And it is that fear that imprisons human beings. Due to his uncertainty, the prince has overcalculated and has given up the chance to kill Claudius. (III, iv, 73-96) By showing these inner conflicts of his, Shakespeare is trying to show how Hamlet continues to struggle for a satisfactory solution and hint how he will achieve a balance between action and inaction.

Matt K said...

Tissues for Hamlet

Anger is one of the most powerful emotions for a human being. If it isn’t handled appropriately, it has the potential to be a destructive force against the individual and perhaps his/her loved ones. In the first three acts of William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the protagonist faces problems in his life and deals with it by bottling up his angered feelings. This anger repression is considered to be “very inappropriate because it often turns the individual into a state of depression and anxiety” (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/BHCV2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anger_how_it_affects_people?open). Through Hamlet’s first three soliloquies where he represses to let out his anger, he witnesses the emotion that is released by another individual and the knowledge on how to release this anger will assist the building towards his explosion of action.

Soliloquy #1

In Hamlet’s first soliloquy he reveals to the reader that he wishes to kill himself but he cannot due to the law God has put down for Christians to follow. He contemplates about death and has the feeling that life is useless to him because of the devastating positions he has faced like his father’s death, mother’s remarriage to his uncle and his uncle obtaining the throne. This is Hamlet’s state of depression. He bickers against the sudden death of his father and call’s his mother’s swift marriage to his uncle incestuous. “O most wicked speed! To post / With such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (1.2. 156-157). But then Hamlet says “But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue” (1.2.159). He has these feelings about how his mother is acting like a whore but he won’t stand up say his feelings of anger to her upfront. This is Hamlets solution; to let the things that affect him pass through him and he seizes to let out his anger which he has.

Soliloquy #2

In Hamlets second soliloquy he reveals to the reader the difference between him and another human being, the player. “A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak / Like a John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, / And can say nothing – no, not for a king” (2.2. 562-564). Hamlet argues against himself that a player could perform so much impassioned grief to dramatic story that has no meaning to player’s real-life background and yet he, Hamlet, cannot act against Claudius on his real-life grief. He degrades himself for being a coward and a villain towards his father but with all this thought about himself he realizes that this anger is pointless emotion and he must get to work. He then outlines his plan to have the players perform The Murder of Gonzago for the king. During the play he will observe his uncles expressions on his face to see if he reveals any guilt. Near the end the soliloquy he’s paranoid that devil maybe taking advantage of his depression so he must carry out on his plan to have substantial proof to catch Claudius’ guilt before he decides to kill him. “The spirit I have seen / May be a devil, and the devil hath power / T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps, / Out of my weakness and my melancholy” (2.2. 594-597). This shows that Hamlet is thinking too much at all of the possible outcomes and means he is an indecisive character.

Soliloquy #3

In Hamlets third soliloquy he reveals to the reader his indecisiveness; does he want to live through a life where he takes in everything that has affected his mind to suffer or to live a life where he fights against the suffering to put an end to it all. “Whether ‘tis noble in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them” (3.1. 57-60). He explains that when people die it gives them time to stop and think; this is why we live through the good, bad and the ugly circumstances so we can evaluate ourselves. He also states that since the conscience makes an individual think about what is right and wrong then perhaps if we continue to think about it we will never be able to attempt the wrongs because our conscience tells us there will be consequences if we acted on our wrongdoings, thus making us cowards. “Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, / And enterprises of great pitch and moment / With this regard their currents turn awry / And lose the name of action” (3.1. 85-88). Hamlet knows that his thirst for revenge diminishes and he loses his momentum of carry through with the act every time he takes the time to stop and think about what he will be acting upon of.

Some people do not or have very little management over their anger and tend to explode in rages which may lead to violence. “A person who doesn’t control this temper can isolate themselves from family and friends” (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/BHCV2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anger_how_it_affects_people?open). This is what Hamlet is currently going through in his first three soliloquies where he represses to let out his anger, witnesses the emotion that is released by another individual and the knowledge on how to release this anger it has assisted the building towards his explosion of action. Furthermore, Hamlet’s volcano of anger is soon to erupt.

Mike C said...

Hamlets Sudden Explosion

A Soliloquy is a dramatic speech expressed by one character speaking silently while alone on the stage or while under the impression of being alone on the stage of a play. The soliloquist reveals his or her inner thoughts and feelings to the audience, either in supposed self‐communion or in a directly spoken matter. Soliloquies often appear in plays throughout Shakespeare’s, Hamlet. During the course of the play Hamlet, the main character Hamlet performs soliloquies towards the audience that reveal very important facts and vital information about his personal thoughts and strategies within the storyline. This is an act of speaking to oneself with no one else around him during the time of the play. In his first soliloquy of act one Hamlet is mourning the death of his father and reveals his thoughts about the whole situation he’s facing right before him and about his disgust toward Claudius and Gertrude, also another soliloquy within act one is revealed after the Ghost tells Hamlet of the true murderer of his father, King Hamlet. In act two Hamlets reveals another soliloquy about his plan to expose Claudius for the murderer he really is. Finally in act three Hamlet questions his existence in the world that leads to his sudden explosion and violent actions by the end of the last scene in act three.

In the first soliloquy, Hamlet is mourning the death of his father and also expressing his hatred for Claudius and Gertrude. Hamlet seems to be extremely depressed and thoughts of suicide are evident in the first part of his soliloquy. As the soliloquy progresses Hamlet speaks about Claudius’ skills as a king and a father. When Hamlet says “So excellent a king, that was to his Hyperion to a satyr (1.2.140)” he is saying that Claudius is a beast compared to his father, who was a God. Hamlet continues by saying that if Claudius is his father, than he must be Hercules. He then refers to his mother as “woman,” (1.2.146) and shows how mad he is that she married Claudius so soon after the death of the King. After Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, Hamlet suspects something is afoot and he is determined to find out what it is. This soliloquy really sets up the story and from this point on, the story unfolds. The purpose of the soliloquy is to reveal Hamlet’s deepest thoughts and feelings about Claudius and Gertrude. The soliloquy is directed strictly to the audience and makes the audience feel a strong connection to Hamlet. Hamlet delivers the soliloquy with feelings of misery, resentment, anger and vulnerability. The other Soliloquy in act one after the Ghost reveals the true murderer of his father Hamlet is hesitant on avenging his father’s death, he swears that he will wipe away the memories and thoughts from his mind in order to remember the important facts that his father has told him. He clearly shows the anger he has towards Claudius, as well as Gertrude. Hamlet hates the fact that his mother can move on so freely and easily and that she hasn’t mourned the death of her husband long enough. The final line of the soliloquy hints toward Hamlet doing something about Claudius and Gertrude, “So, uncle there you are. Now my word. It is ‘Adieu, adieu, remember me.” I have sworn’t.”(1.5.110-113). This reveals that Hamlet is too much of a thinker, and not much of an actor. This soliloquy reveals Hamlet as a strategist who doesn’t take hasty action.

The second act Hamlet tells the audience of another soliloquy and in this soliloquy, Hamlet has finished watching one of the actors perform. Hamlet feels great emotion from watching him and reveals that he wishes he could one day have as much emotion as well as being able to take control of it. Hamlet compares the actor to his mother, wondering how this actor can express so much feeling and emotion for an imaginary figure, while his mother shows such a lack of respect to her late husband. Hamlet envies this actor, and imagines how this actor would act if they shared the same emotion. Hamlet develops a plot in which he will change some words in the original play in order to make Claudius feel guilty and possibly confess to treason, “More relative than this. The play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”(2.2.600-601). The purpose for this soliloquy is to expose Claudius for the murderer he is. To show everyone that he isn’t some madman and that what the ghost told him was completely correct.

Finally the last soliloquy in Act Three Hamlet questions his existence in the world, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”(3.1.56). Hamlet is searching for the meaning of life, and he feels helpless because he really isn’t getting any answers. He argues that if the afterlife is so peaceful and rich, why continue living in a corrupt and ugly world. Death as a decision to problems is a reoccurring theme in Hamlet’s character. He then expresses his fear of the unknown, and how he finds himself in a problem in which he should continue living a miserable life, or end it and suffer the consequences of not knowing. He concludes that it is our mind and our thoughts that bring us weakness, for if we do not think and just act, life would be much simpler and therefore this leads to a big turning point for Hamlet.

After all the soliloquies presented by Hamlet throughout the first three acts of the play the ones through act one and two are all thoughts of what he could do and the thing is he doesn’t act at all in any way for none of them but finally in act three, Hamlet is confused and his thoughts and feelings get the best of him. Hamlet reveals his fear of not being remembered and that his existence will be unforgivable. He is tired of being the man that stands around frozen in time behind him while everything else around him is moving in motion ahead of him. Hamlet starts to seriously think about the true meaning of life and therefore do to the statement, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”, this leads to his sudden explosion and violent actions because not thinking but just acting results in the death of Polonius, Claudius’ still being alive, and Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother at the last scene of act three.

Eric Z said...

Question, then Act; Such is Hamlet

A soliloquy is a dramatic tool used in plays to better connect a character with the audience, so that the audience may know their thoughts and perspective more clearly. It is a speech delivered by a character, alone, similar to a monologue, and reveal much about the person speaking them. In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark has many of his feelings and opinions exposed through his speeches to the audience. Through his soliloquies, Shakespeare divulges Hamlet’s internal conflicts of melancholy towards his mother, the merit of seeking revenge on behalf of his slain father, and contemplation of continuing on with his life, all which draw the protagonist closer to the imminent action he takes in Act III.

In Act I Scene II, Hamlet, in his first soliloquy displays very a depressed, unhappy tone, and even makes a comment suicidal in nature. “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,/Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,/Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d/His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter” (I.ii.129-131). His distress is brought upon by the noticeably hasty marriage of his mother, Queen Gertrude, to his late father’s brother, Claudius. His mood, first revealed here, is prevalent throughout the play and it causes him to be hesitant on his actions of revenge set by the Ghost of his father, King Hamlet. “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift/As meditation or the thoughts of love/May sweep to my revenge” (I.v.29-31). Hamlet displays a furious desire for action as he finds out that Claudius murdered the King, though between that time and the time of any real action from Hamlet, two months have passed. His plan to force Claudius to publicly omit his guilt through the traveling player production is not carried out until then, during Act III. Hamlet, while he bides his time, forces Claudius into a very uncomfortable state, almost succeeding in his plan. It is an ingenious plot, and nearly succeeded in getting Claudius to confess his murder.

After conversing with Polonius, then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and finally with the group of traveling actors, Hamlet delivers his second soliloquy. He immediately reflects on his disconnected, unemotional mood, which is revealed to him when he sees the passion of a player simply delivering a segment of his act. “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!/Is it not monstrous that this player here,/But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,/Could force his soul so to his own conceit/That from her working all visage wann’d,/Tears in his eyes,/…And all for nothing!” (II.ii.544-551). He notices his passion radiating for simple lines from a play, and Hamlet, currently dealing with a major plan to seek revenge, cannot fathom any sort of sentiment whatsoever. “Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,/That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,/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,/A scullion!” (II.ii.578-583). He recognizes his situation and the natural effect to its main cause, but cannot go through with it, causing him to become very angry with himself. Hamlet, with all this pressure to go through with his revenge plan and become a hero, finally lets go of his constant questioning and finally takes action in Act III. He displays courage in setting himself free from his rational shackles, and desire for retribution satisfyingly sets in.

Just before Hamlet’s altered play is performed by the players, he delivers his most famous soliloquy in Act III Scene I. “To be, or not to be, that is the question:/Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And by opposing end them.” (III.i.56-60). The melancholic contemplation of life immediately spoken by Hamlet shows his uncertainty of the revenge he is in search of, right up until his plan is carried out. He considers whether he should live or not, and ponders the effects of both decisions. It is this type of constant questioning Hamlet carries with him until his actions, and he frequently acknowledges it. “Who would fardels bear,/To grunt and sweat under a weary life,/But that the dread of something after death,/The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn/No traveler returns, puzzles the will,/And makes us rather bear those ills we have/Than fly to others that we know not of?” (III.i.76-82). Hamlet observes the will of people to live through their unwanted tragedies and problems within their lives, rather than ending them so they never have to deal with them. He understands finally he must carry out the plan of revenge for his father, and too much contemplation and questioning on the subject only distracts him from his objective. “And thus the native hue of resolution/Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,/And enterprises of great pitch and moment/With this regard their currents turn awry/And lose the name of action.” (III.i.83-88). Resolution is not possible with constant thought and reflection on it; action must be taken, and it took Hamlet three Acts to come to this revelation. Between his depressed feelings, self-loathing, and fear to take action, Hamlet finally is ready to commit to his quest for revenge, and Act III finally presents a forward motion on this search.

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a very complex, true character with real emotions, thoughts, and questions. Many who observe this tragic hero find relation in his personality and views, and it is very uncommon to feel such a connection with a character in a play. Through his melancholy, fear to obtain revenge, and questions of life, Shakespeare creates a real person in Hamlet; one that makes the audience feel a deep sense of excitement and satisfaction when at last he acts on his impulse without constantly questioning it. His authentic persona is a gem, and it is an incredibly moving series of events to observe.