Critically examine the soliloquies of HAMLET?answer

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writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several soliloquies throughout the play, Hamlet, most of which function to show the major themes that Shakespeare is developing. In Act I, Hamlet's soliloquies shows the images of decay and corruption which run rampant through the play, highlighting the Elizabethan view of regicide. Hamlet's famous "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy in Act II shows the internal conflict that Hamlet is wrestling with -- is this life even worth the problems it brings? As Hamlet contemplates suicide, he comes to the conclusion that, though this world is full of corruption and pain, it is better than the unknown that death brings. This soliloquy gets to the heart of one of man's greatest fears -- death and the unknown. Later, in Act IV, we see Hamlet resolve to act because of the marching army of Fortinbras, a resolution also revealed in a soliloquy.

Other characters have notable soliloquies that add to the development of theme and conflict as well. The gravedigger's speech in Act V again highlights the inevitability of death for all men. Claudius' soliloquy in Act III reveals that, though he knows he should feel guilty for murdering his brother, he cannot bring himself to confess. This also leads to the climax and adds irony, since Hamlet fails to kill Claudius at this point, misunderstanding the intention of his prayer.