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Explain the significance of Hamlet's soliloquy in act 2, scene 2, of William...

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danielb77 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:44 PM via web

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Explain the significance of Hamlet's soliloquy in act 2, scene 2, of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. (Please include literary devices.)

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 23, 2013 at 11:34 PM (Answer #1)

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The soliloquy in act two, scene two, of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is Hamlet's second soliloquy. In this speech, Hamlet defines his inner conflict. Although he wants to revenge his father's death, Hamlet cannot find it in himself to do so. It is against Hamlet's character to murder, even if in revenge. Over the course of the soliloquy, Hamlet becomes more and more frustrated about the situation he faces. After convincing himself to commit the premeditated murder of Claudius, he talks himself out of it again. Still unsure, he decides to find more evidence against Claudius before enacting his revenge.

 As for any literary devices, a simile is found in line 579. Here, Hamlet compares himself to a whore (shown with the use of "like a"). In line 586, alliteration is found. (Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry.) The “s” sound in “been struck so to the soul that presently.” Lastly, a metaphor extends throughout the soliloquy when Hamlet compares his lack of ability to enact revenge to bad actors.

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kcogliano | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:10 PM (Answer #2)

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In Hamlet's soliloquy at the end of Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet is working through his internal struggle. He struggles with the inappropriate relationship between Gertrude and Claudius and laments over the fact that he has not done anything about it. He is essentially "beating himself up" over the fact that his only plan in dealing with this is to wait and let God be the judge of the incest between the two characters. He goes back and forth on whether he should kill Claudius in an act of revenge, but it really is not in his nature to do so. In the end he decides to just wait and observe Claudius some more in order to get more proof. He resolves to have actors perform a play in which they act out his father's murder so he can watch Claudius's reaction to it. He doesn't trust that the ghost he has seen is not playing with his emotions forcing him into actions that are not justified. He believes this play is just the thing to get to the truth and gather more evidence. 

Some literary devices that are used is personification where he states "For murder though it have no tongue, ill speak with most miraculous organ. He uses this to show how he believes Claudius's emotions will reveal his murderous ways. Hamlet also uses hyperbole to describe himself when he says, "But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter...Why, what an ass am I! This most brave..." He is being especially hard on himself and is completely conflicted about the actions he should take. 

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