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Hamlet's soliloquies dominate the play, does this remove it from Aristotle's version...

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isthatjamesjoyce | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:20 PM via web

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Hamlet's soliloquies dominate the play, does this remove it from Aristotle's version of Tragedy, since it is not through action?  

The question seems vague, what I am truly curious about is whether or not the lack of action seperates the play from the recognizable definition of a tragic drama in Aristotle's Poetics which was the main reference point. Would Shakespeare of understood the implications, and more importantly, would the audience? It seems troublesome to me to throw Hamlet into the same world as many other tragic figures, who are men of action, when it seems forced to describe Hamlet as one.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:14 AM (Answer #1)

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We must not oversimplify what Aristotle meant by “action.”  Soliloquies are action inside the character’s mind, since they are decision-making processes, turning points inside the character’s mind at which he or she decides a course of action.  Consider, for example, the soliloquies of Hamlet.  Aristotle’s main distinction is between the observable, contemplative lyric (one narrative voice) vs. dramatic (more than one narrator).  One of the great strengths of Hamlet is that the play dramatizes the action of deciding whether or not to act -- "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer..."

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