Terms in this set (69)

Hamlet to himself.

The first soliloquy takes place after King Claudius and Queen Gertrude urge Hamlet in open court to cast off the deep melancholy which, they believe, has taken possession of his mind as a consequence of his father's death. In the opinion of the king and queen, Hamlet has already sufficiently grieved and mourned for his father. Prior to the soliloquy, King Claudius and Queen Gertrude announce their upcoming marriage. According to them, the court could not afford excessive grief. This announcement sends Hamlet into a deeper emotional spiral and inspires the soliloquy that follows.

Hamlet refers the world as an 'unweeded garden' in which rank and gross things grow in abundance. He bemoans the fact that he cannot commit suicide and explains in lines 335-336 that "self-slaughter" is not an option because it is forbidden by God. In the first two lines of the soliloquy, he wishes that his physical self might cease to exist on its own without requiring him to commit a mortal sin.
Though saddened by his father's death, the larger cause of Prince Hamlet's misery is Queen Gertrude's disloyal marriage to his uncle. She announces the new marriage when barely a month has passed since his biological father's death. Hamlet mourns that even "a beast would have mourned a little longer." Additionally, he considers this marriage to be an incestuous affair, since his mother is marrying her dead husband's brother.

This soliloquy shows Hamlet's deep affection for the late King Hamlet. It also paints the dead king as a loving husband and a respected father and further serves to demonstrate to the audience the hasty nature of Queen Gertrude's second marriage, which she announces without mourning for a respectable period of time.

Hamlet scorns his mother, but accuses her of weakness rather than malice with the line:

"Frailty, thy name is woman!"

He concludes the soliloquy by voicing his frustration that he must keep his objections to himself.

BASICALLY Hamlet is suicidal but won't kill himself because it is a sin. Hamlet is upset with his mother for remarrying so quickly.
Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
wounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a *****, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion!
Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
In addition to revealing Hamlet's plot to catch the king in his guilt, Hamlet's second soliloquy uncovers the very essence of Hamlet's true conflict. For he is undeniably committed to seeking revenge for his father, yet he cannot act on behalf of his father due to his revulsion toward extracting that cold and calculating revenge. "Hamlet's sense of himself as a coward is derived from a crude, simplistic judgment turning on whether or not he has yet taken any action against the man who murdered his father. His self-condemnation takes several bizarre forms, including histrionic imaginings of a series of demeaning insults that he absorbs like a coward because he feels he has done nothing to take revenge on Claudius" (Newell 61).

Determined to convince himself to carry out the premeditated murder of his uncle, Hamlet works himself into a frenzy (the culmination of which occurs at lines 357-8). He hopes that his passions will halt his better judgement and he will then be able to charge forth and kill Claudius without hesitation. But Hamlet again fails to quell his apprehensions of committing murder and cannot act immediately. So he next tries to focus his attention on a plan to ensure Claudius admits his own guilt. He returns to an idea that had crossed his mind earlier -- that of staging the play The Mousetrap. Hamlet is convinced that, as Claudius watches a re-enactment of his crime, he will surely reveal his own guilt. Hamlet cannot take the word of his father's ghost, who really might be "the devil" (573), tricking him into damning himself. Thus, he must have more material proof before he takes Claudius's life -- he must "catch the conscience of the king."

BASICALLY Hamlet is mad at himself for not killing Claudius yet after watching an actor cry over fiction. Hamlet has enough reason reason to kill him, so he must be a coward since he hasn't done it yet.
Hamlet to himself
Soliloquy #4
Hamlet is torn between killing himself and living in his suffering. He thinks people who don't commit suicide are cowards because they fear death.

Unlike Hamlet's first two major soliloquies, his third and most famous speech seems to be governed by reason and not frenzied emotion. Unable to do little but wait for completion of his plan to "catch the conscience of the king", Hamlet sparks an internal philosophical debate on the advantages and disadvantages of existence, and whether it is one's right to end his or her own life. Some scholars limit Hamlet's discussion to a deliberation of whether he should take his own life. "Yet nothing anywhere in the speech relates it to Hamlet's individual case. He uses the pronouns we and us, the indefinite who, the impersonal infinitive. He speaks explicitly of us all, of what flesh is heir to, of what we suffer at the hands of time or fortune - which serves incidentally to indicate what for Hamlet is meant by to be" (Jenkins 489).

Hamlet asks the question for all dejected souls -- is it nobler to live miserably or to end one's sorrows with a single stroke? He knows that the answer would be undoubtedly yes if death were like a dreamless sleep. The rub or obstacle Hamlet faces is the fear of what dreams may come (74), i.e. the dread of something after death (86). Hamlet is well aware that suicide is condemned by the church as a mortal sin.

Hamlet's soliloquy is interrupted by Ophelia who is saying her prayers. Hamlet addresses her as Nymph, a courtly salutation common in the Renaissance1. Some critics argue that Hamlet's greeting is strained and coolly polite, and his request that she remembers him in her prayers is sarcastic. However, others claim that Hamlet, emerging from his moment of intense personal reflection, genuinely implores the gentle and innocent Ophelia to pray for him.