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To be or not to be Hamlet soliloquy analysis

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Zoya Kidwai Hamlet Soliloquy: "To be or not to be..."Act 3 Scene 1 Shakespeare's use of soliloquies throughout "Hamlet", show the audience a characters inner most thoughts and emotions. Soliloquies further accentuate the characters traits and underlying themes. Hamlet's soliloquy along with Shakespeare's use of literary techniques such as irony, metaphor and imagery, allows the audience to distinguish the underlying themes of uncertainty and death, Hamlets view of life and his innermost thoughts which furthers our understanding of his character. This world famous soliloquy is spoken after Polonius and Claudius hide as they hear Hamlet approaching in the beginning of Act three. Some analyses of this scene differ as to whether Hamlet is aware of the fact that he is being spied on or if he is unaware. Hamlet speaks out in a very philosophical manner, as if he is giving a seminar to someone which may indicate that he is aware that he is being spied on. There is no evidence in the soliloquy that indicates that he is talking about his own life as there is no use of the words "I" or "my" which further demonstrates the fact that he is wary of being listened to. ...read more.


For example to face "the pangs of despised love," shows the distress we may feel for love that is undervalued or "the proud man's contumely," shows how when people are pride they are unjust, insulting and offensive to others. These lines show us that Hamlet is a very thoughtful and humble person and is not ignorant like some royalty that you would expect high up in the hierarchy to be. These lines (70-73) may also be referring to Claudius through dramatic irony. For example Hamlet exclaims "the spurns that patient merit of th'unworthy takes" shows reference to Old Hamlet, "patient merit" who gets "spurned" by the "unworthy" Claudius showing how he despised and finally murdered Old Hamlet. Hamlet's soliloquy does not run very gracefully like the rest of his soliloquies do. He jumps from one subject to another, unable to decide "whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer" and "bear those ills we have" in life or "to take arms against a sea of troubles" by committing suicide. Again there is warlike imagery used to show how Hamlet would be prepared to "go to battle" against his "sea" of problems to die in order to "end the heartache" in his life. ...read more.


According to Hamlet it is the fear of the sin and the unknown which makes "cowards" of people. It is his "conscience" that stops him from his own suicide which may also be an example of dramatic irony in which his conscience prevents him from killing Claudius. The fear that Hamlet feels can be further expressed in the soliloquy when Hamlet says "the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." This shows that when we think of our fear and our guilty conscience, the natural colour of our complexion becomes pale. After his long soliloquy expressing his thoughts, Hamlet is unable to reach a conclusion as to whether he should commit suicide or not. Hamlet reveals his confusion and bewilderment to the audience through his fluctuating emotions and his indecisiveness, which is a turning point in the play as the audience is unable to decipher whether Hamlet is acting mad or has really become mad. I believe that Hamlet has not become mad but his confusion as whether to kill Claudius, commit suicide or not and the pressure of having to act mad has resulted in his thoughts becoming disorderly and erratic. ...read more.

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