William Shakespeare Questions and Answers

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Broadly describe how Hamlet expresses his melancholy in his first soliloquy. Please give a broad summary.

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In Act I, Scene 2, of "Hamlet," the Prince of Denmark bemoans that his "sallied flesh" cannot melt like dew, wishing that suicide were not morally wrong.  Hamlet is depressed, disgusted with life that presents a once loving wife who hung on her husband

As if increase of appetite had grown/By what it fed one, and yet, within a month--...Frailty, thy name is woman--(I,ii,143-145)

she has wed his uncle Claudius.  Why, Hamlet exclaims, a "beast that wants discourse of reason" (I,ii,150) would mourn longer for someone.  In short, Hamlet is disgusted with the conduct of his mother.  This disgust grows within the prince; he vows to "remember" the ghost of his father in his antipathy for his mother, that "pernicious woman" who is a "villain, smiling, damned villain!" (I,v,106).  Other soliloquies reflect this preoccupation that Hamlet has with avenging his father, an intent that is paralyzed by Hamlet's moral conscience as well as his stultifying depression.

In the end, Hamlet does act by fighting Laertes, whom Claudius has enlisted to carry out the insidious plot to kill the prince.  Hamlet avenges the death of his father after undergoing a character change in the final act when he asserts that he is "Hamlet, the Dane," not the "sallied flesh."

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