Hamlet’s Soliloquies

You brought up a good point in your blog: Shakespeare seems to reproduce human thoughts in Hamlet’s soliloquies. I furthermore had the impression that Hamlet’s soliloquies are almost philosophical in nature. He internally discusses the thoughts that bother him and even derives logic conclusions from these internal discussions, as we can see in his discussion of death in his “To-be-or-not-to-be” speech in 3.1:
“…’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! 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.” (3.1.65-71)

“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.” (3.1.85-90)

Especially his lines following lines are highly philosophical, but yet so true:

“And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action. ” (3.1.88-89)

These lines mirror exactly how Hamlet approaches his task, and Hamlet also provides us with an answer why he has not yet put the assignment of the Ghost into action. It seems as if his soliloquies help him to bring order in his thoughts, and to keep a level head for planning his move against Claudius.

Shakespeare II

Hamlet features numerous soliloquies, each with their own brilliance and meanings. Some that come to mind are “O that this too too solid flesh would melt”, “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!”, and his all-time famous “To be, or not to be; that is the question.” 

Beginning with “O that this too too solid flesh…” which begins at 1.2.129 in the play, features a Hamlet who is contemplating suicide after the death of his father, the King of Denmark. Hamlet wishes that his flesh would melt off (“O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew” 1.2.129-130) but knows that this is against God’s law (“Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘gainst self-slaugher!” 1.2.131-132) and is extremely upset that this is the case because the present world is a place in which he does not which to…

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2 thoughts on “Hamlet’s Soliloquies

  1. Pingback: How a Gravedigger Saved Shakespeare, or Life is an Ensemble Performance | Yankee Skeptic

  2. Pingback: One day you learn the only stars are in the heavens, or we’re all part of an ensemble cast « Two Different Girls

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