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Compare the two soliloquies in the play Hamlet: 1) Act 1, Scene 2: "O, this too too...

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kimoyo | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted March 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM via web

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Compare the two soliloquies in the play Hamlet:

1) Act 1, Scene 2: "O, this too too solid flesh would melt," (lines 131-161)

                                    AND

2) Act 3, Scene 1: "To be, or not to be; that is the question:" (lines 64-98).

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 21, 2013 at 9:41 PM (Answer #1)

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In the soliloquy of Act 1, Scene 2, Hamlet laments the death of his father and is furious that his mother, Gertrude, has married Claudius so quickly. Hamlet compares the transition of kings, from his father to Claudius, as "Hyperion to a satyr," from a god to a lustful man. The fact that Hamlet thinks so highly of his father, perhaps exaggerated in his grief, makes Hamlet that much more upset that Claudius and Gertrude would betray old King Hamlet by marrying so soon. This soliloquy also establishes Hamlet's growing frustration with women in general. This is evidenced by his famous line, "Frailty, thy name is woman-" and this has something to do with Hamlet's indifferent attitude towards Ophelia, whom he supposedly loves. 

The overt connection between the two soliloquies is that they begin with the same thought: suicide. In the soliloquy of Act 1, Scene 2, Hamlet briefly considers suicide but immediately decides against it because such a thing is a sin in the eyes of God (the Everlasting): 

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,

Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! (I.ii.132-35) 

But in Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet gets much more philosophical and really considers the pros and cons of suicide or going through with his revenge. In the first soliloquy, Hamlet wished he could commit suicide to get out of his lamentable situation. But in this soliloquy, he determines that suicide is a worse fate than his current situation because death is unknown. In other words, it is better to face known troubles than to chance the unknown: 

                    Who would these fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscoverd country from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have 

Than to fly to others that we know not of? (III.i.83-89) 

 

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