How many soliloquies are there in Hamlet?

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Joelle Robison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A soliloquy is when a character shares his or her thoughts through a speech. The audience is able to hear it, but any other characters that are present are not privy to the words that are spoken. Soliloquies provide insight into what the character is thinking and gives the opportunity for the audience to learn information that cannot be revealed through characters’ conversations. William Shakespeare often uses soliloquies in his plays, and Hamlet is no exception. Throughout the play of Hamlet, there are a total of seven soliloquies. Each soliloquy helps the audience learn more about the character of Hamlet, especially since he’s always honest and his true self during the soliloquies, unlike times when he is speaking with other characters.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hamlet has seven soliloquies in Hamlet. Their significance lies in their characterizing of Hamlet as an introspective and anguished character. While in a typical Renaissance revenge tragedy, a protagonist would quickly jump into action to try to avenge a death, Hamlet vacillates. Unlike Laertes, who is immediately out for blood when he learns that Hamlet has killed his father, Hamlet carefully contemplates his next steps and wishes he didn't have to face the problem of revenge. What, he wonders, if the ghost he meets has been sent by Satan to tempt him into killing an innocent man? How can he establish in some objective way that Claudius did, in fact, murder his father? 

If Hamlet was already upset about his father death, the ghost's revelation sends him into a tailspin of depression. He indulges in suicidal ideation, wishing in his soliloquies that he could, for example, dissolve like the dew or take his own life, deciding that is only fear of what he might encounter after death that keeps him...

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mrhecimovich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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