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What is one of Hamlet's soliloquies in Hamlet with an explanation of how this...

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pbrigham121 | Student

Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:06 PM via iOS

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What is one of Hamlet's soliloquies in Hamlet with an explanation of how this particular soliloquy reveals the significance of his character ?

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:45 PM (Answer #1)

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In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there is a rhythm that is created by each of the Prince of Denmark's soliloquies, as they are what ignite Hamlet, then bring him to a standstill. It is not until he finally completes his debated actions, that Hamlet leads himself to violence. 

Hamlet's third soliloquy exemplifies this rhythm of fury and strong purpose, and then standstill, action, and later deadlock. For, Hamlet's inner turmoil stems from his virtue: He is hesitant to kill Claudius because regicide is a serious offense unless there is extreme danger to the state. Killing someone, of course, is sinful; consequently, Hamlet delays. But, whenever he witnesses others exhibit strong emotion for lesser reasons, such as the actor who 

... would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed 
The very faculties of eyes and ears...(2.2.555-559)

in pretending to be weeping for Hecuba in his play, or the "gentle prince" Fortinbras who is willing to die for the honor of his dead father, Hamlet severely berates himself: "O, what a rogue and peasant slave I am!"(2.2.543). Then, after further castigating himself as a "slave" and one who is "pigeon-livered" and lacking "gall," Hamlet then turns his anger to Claudius, condemning him as a "Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!"(2.2.574).  

Hamlet slowly realizes that his procrastination has been because of his doubt about the ghost being real or merely a projection of his own melancholy which has resulted from both his "weakness," as well as his hatred for Claudius. This doubt leads him to a plan of action. In order to learn the truth, he decides to have the actors create a drama similar to what his father's ghost has told him and watch Claudius's reaction:

The play's the thing 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.(2.2.599-600)

After Hamlet observes the king's reaction, he vows to kill Claudius; however, once again he comes to a standstill. For, when he later sees Claudius at prayer, he feels he cannot murder him because killing Claudius will make him a martyr and send him to heaven.



 

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