Hamlet’s soliloquy from the novel Hamlet

(This question frequently appears in exam of Every year)

What is soliloquy?

Soliloquy – (monologue), it is an act of talking to oneself, especially in a play, it works as an ability to reveal the hidden self of the character. It implies a single speaker and listener.

How soliloquy become one of the must imp part of Elizabethan theatre?

In Elizabethan age, soliloquy become widely popular and used as a vehicle for subjective utterance and become an important dramatic convention. It has been used in some of the popular play of Elizabethan age like; Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Dr. Faustus etc.

Not only in Elizabethan Age but Jacobean period ‘s playwrights made an extensive use of soliloquy in their plays. Soliloquy however in turn, opened up many dramatic opportunities for the development of theatre. In the process of developing soliloquy, the Elizabethan verse found an opportunity to attain superior levels of achievement.

Hamlet’s soliloquies

Hamlet is a one of the greatest novels of all time written by God of drama Shakespeare, it is also a great tragedy in history of English literature. Hamlet’s soliloquies are as much like direct message. It’s like a direct interaction with the audience. Therefore, Hamlet’s soliloquy occurs in few particular scenes as such;

The first soliloquy occurs before the ghost has appeared and the suggestion of a possible treacherous murder have been made to hamlet. Also, his mother disowns his father posthumously and accepts Claudius as her husband. Hamlet emerges as a ruminative, reflective and a private person and much loyal to the memory of his father and stunned at his mother’s incestuous conduct. This soliloquy marks hamlet’s recognition that the world is full of both evil and good, a world in which Hyperion and satry are brothers. His mother’s conduct pains him the most. 

It felt Hamlet that he has entered into the world of Elsinore, it is in this frame of mind that Hamlet reacts to what lie in the world of Elsinore offers him.

The Second soliloquy shows Hamlet committing himself avenge his father’s death. This soliloquy too, depends his disgust with his mother conduct and the fact that he is his mother’s flesh and blood receives a remainder.

The third soliloquy finds him remorseful for not having taken any action to avenge his father’s death. There is yet another implied and understand reference to his mother in the line in which he describes Claudius as “bloody, bawdy villain” remorseless, treacherous, lecherous and Kindles villain.

To be, or not be,” the fourth soliloquy is the most philosophical statement that Hamlet makes in the play and has provoked much debate and is perhaps the most discussed and interpreted. One of the major concerns that Hamlet’s ruminations focus on in this soliloquy is the conflict between passion and reason.

For example; in the 17th century book by Robert Burton “The Anatomy of Melancholy” (1621) and Thomas Wright’s book “The Passion of the Minde” (1601), passions clouded reason and it was in the interest of the individual as well as the society to keep them in check.

Cicero, had described passion as “perturbation”, the troubled or stirred motions of the mind strayed from reason, enemies of the mind and also of a quiet life.

Hamlet is portrayed as possessed of the passion of melancholy, sorrow and fear. Sorrow and fear being two other emotion, which was believed that accompanied melancholy. Right from the beginning, Hamlet is portrayed as melancholic. He himself says; How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seems to me all the uses of the world.              

Hamlet’s mother begs him to “cast” his “knighted color off”. The dread of something offer death, constantly hangs heavy upon the mind of Hamlet. And yet he admires anyone who can control passion and rise above them. A stoic response to the misfortunes of life is something he aspires to be able to show. He praises Horatio as one who is not “passion’s slave”. He finds Ophelia, Polonius and especially his own mother slaves of passion.

The fifth soliloquy “Tis now the very witching time of night”, reveals Hamlet resolute:  “Now I could drink not blood,/ And do such bitter business of the day/ would quake to look on”. He in this soliloquy, returns to his mother’s incestuous, unnatural conduct, refers to Nero (who had his mother Agrippina put to death, who had able poisoned her husband, the emperor Claudius) hopes to be able to control his anger while confronting her with the truth of her actions.

The sixth soliloquy occurs in the prayer scene and contains one more reference to his mother “my mother stays, as does the last soliloquy- my mother stained.

All the soliloquies express various passion associated with Hamlet’s melancholy and the longer soliloquy seek to attain the stoic ideal of “imperturbability” “to be, or not to be” shows Hamlet a holding book, a characteristic gesture on the part of a melancholic.

Therefore, the soliloquy we can say that emphasizes the idea of the delay in the mental make- up of Hamlet as well as the delay of embedded in the plot- structure of the play. They reveal hamlet given to self- reflection and excessively speculative, indecisive, and irresolute.

Hamlet also comes across as a scholar and a poet, the soliloquies reveal Hamlet’s tragic flow that turns him into tragedy and Hamlet as the prime agent who brings about the tragic denouement, Hamlet thinks too much, he weighs the consequences of action to such an excessive length that action becomes postponed as reflection takes the place of action itself.

In a sense, one can characterize all the soliloquies as variation on some theme: an obsessive concern with his mother’s incestuous conduct and the contamination that he feels has befouled him too, as her son.

2 thoughts on “Hamlet’s soliloquy from the novel Hamlet

  1. KK 11 Jul 2022 / 1:07 pm

    This is an informative and nicely articulated piece 👌

    Liked by 1 person

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