In William Shakespeare’s ?Hamlet? there are four major soliloquies that reflect the character of Hamlet.
In this paper I will be analyzing and discussing how these four soliloquies reflect changes in Hamlet’s mental state; his
changing attitudes toward life and the other characters in the play, particularly the women; and his reflection on the
task of revenge that has been assigned to him. These four soliloquies are the backbones of the play, and they offer the
audience a glimpse into Hamlet’s mind and thought processes.
In the first soliloquy it is very obvious that Hamlet’s sanity is in question. This is apparent in the first four
lines of this soliloquy. ? O that this too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the
Everlasting had not fixed, His canon ?gainst self-slaughter, O God! God!? (42) These few lines show that Hamlet is so
depressed that he wishes he could melt away into nothingness or commit suicide. It is also very apparent in this
soliloquy, that Hamlet is beginning to loath his mother for marrying Claudius only one month after King Hamlet’s
death. Hamlet loathes his mother and begins to loath all women, because he believes they are all weak. ?Let me not
think on’t! Frailty, They name is women!? (42) Hamlet seems to view Denmark as a metaphorical garden of Eden
which now totally corrupt, this can be seen when Hamlet says ? Tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things
rank and gross in nature?. (42) This soliloquy presents the audience a glimpse into Hamlet’s psyche, he is obviously
enraged at his mother’s marriage, the state of Denmark, and he is still mourning his father’s death.
The second soliloquy is very intriguing and it helps to set up many events that happen during the play.
Hamlet is first wondering how an actor, who has no true emotional connection to the play was performing can seem
to have such deep emotions; while he in reality is feeling unfathomable pain and anguish and he cannot due anything
more than mope around depressed and rant and rave about his father’s death. ?What’s Hecuba to him, or he to
Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, He the motive and the cue for passion, That I have.? (134)
Hamlet doubts his own character and obedience to his father in this Soliloquy. He ponders whether or not he is a
coward because he has yet to kill Claudius. ? But I am pigeon livered and lack gall, To make oppression bitter, or ere
this, I should ha’ fattee all the region kites, With this slaves’s offal.? (136) During this soliloquy Hamlet contrives a
plan to entrap Claudius so that hamlet can be totally sure that Claudius is guilty. ? I have heard, That guilty creatures
sitting at a play, Have, by the very running of the scene, Been struck so to the soul that presently, They have
proclaimed their malefactions, For murder, Though it have no tongue, will speak, with the most miraculous organ.?
(136) This soliloquy is very important because it demonstrates Hamlet’s anger at himself and Claudius, and how
Hamlet intends to obtain the final piece of evidence about his father’s death. He needs this evidence so he can be
absolutely sure that Claudius killed King Hamlet.
In the third soliloquy it is obvious that Hamlet is extremely depressed. Hamlet is seriously considering
suicide but he wonders if death is worse then living. ?To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the
rub:? (142) Hamlet considers suicide throughout the play but when he gets close to doing it he finds an excuse not to.
He wonders if death is more hellish than life, and asks why would humans go through all the pain and suffering that
life has to offer, if they could end it all by killing themselves. ?For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The
oppressor’s wrong, The proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despised love, The law’s delay, The insolence of
office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make, With a bare
bodkin?? (142,144) Hamlet’s character has truly changed at this point. He is no longer a man pretending to be mad –
he is a man who is truly mad.
In the forth soliloquy hamlet wonders if he is fulfilling his purpose in his life, which he now believes is to
avenge his father’s murder. He is angry with himself for waiting so long to exact his revenge and fulfill his purpose.
?How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge!? (222) At this point Hamlet is felling ashamed
of his procrastination and wonders if he is indeed a great man. ?When honour’s at stake. How stained I then, That
have a father killed, a mother stained, And let all sleep.? (222) His psyche by this time is truly damaged. He is now
just a shell of a man with one purpose, revenge! ?Oh, from now on my thoughts must concentrate on vengeance, or
they’re unworthy!? (224)
Hamlet is a tragic hero when looked upon from an Aristotelian point of view. First, he was a great man of
noble birth and he had a lot of responsibility in his kingdom. He is looked up to by most for leadership and guidance.
Hamlet has the fatal tendency to only concentrate on only one thing, this thing was to revenge his father’s death by
killing Claudius. This tendency leads him to his downfall along with his on major character flaw. This flaw is that Hamlet is a serial procrastinator. One example of this procrastination is that he had many chance to murder Claudius
but he did not, he always seemed to find some excuse not to do it. I wonder if he killed Claudius the first chance he
got, would he have lived a long and happy life as the King along with his Queen, instead of dying by the shear will of
Shakespeare, William. ?Hamlet? Shakespeare made easy. 1986