It starts with
32 How all occasions do inform against me,
33 And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
34 If his chief good and market of his time
35 Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
36 Sure, He that made us with such large discourse,
1 Answer | Add Yours
This soliloquy in Act V.iv echoes the monologue that Hamlet recited to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern earlier in Act II.ii:
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.
Hamlet is being sarcastic to the pair of spies here in Act II, but He seems to distrust the Romantic and Platonic essentialism in man: he does not believe he is much better than an animal. Rather, Hamlet waxes existential and nihilistic in these two speeches.
Moreover, in Act IV Hamlet sees that Fortinbras, a man of action, is willing to have many men die for an "eggshell," a worthless piece of land, whereas he cannot even muster enough courage to avenge his own father and kill a confessed murderer and adulterer.
This soliloquy is the turning point in Hamlet's nature: he casts off his passivity, his intellectual side, and his superego (conscience) and becomes a man of action, revenge, an id (base desire and blood lust). In short, his "thoughts are bloody."
So, his Elizabethan audience would have found something to like. The lords and nobility would like the philosophical pondering; the lower classes would like the "bloody business" and the animal imagery; and the men would like the line about "Man delights me not. No, nor women either," as it is funny.
We’ve answered 318,917 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question