What is the significance of the following soliloquy from Hamlet to the theme of revenge? Please refer to the lines in the soliloquy itself to support your analysis and interpretation. Act 4, Scene...
Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 33-65
It is important to be aware of the context of this famous soliloquy. Hamlet, on his way away from Elsinore and towards England, having killed Polonius, meets an army going to fight a battle in Poland. He sees that the willingness of the soldiers to sacrifice their lives for a small piece of foreign land is in direct contrast to his own reluctance to revenge his father. The example of the soldiers is therefore a rebuke to his own inaction. Looking at them, he is aware of his "dull revenge," and how it shows him, who has such cause to pursue revenge, in a bad light. Note the following quote:
How stand I then,That have a father killed, a mother stained,Excitements of my reason and my blood,And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I seeThe imminent death of twenty thousand men,That for a fantasy and trick of fameGo to their graves like beds, fight for a plotWhereon the numbers cannot try the cause,Which is not tomb enough and continentTo hide the slain?