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By close examination of three soliloquies, discuss Hamlet's changing state of mind

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Introduction

By close examination of three soliloquies, discuss Hamlet's changing state of mind Hamlet's state of mind changes throughout the play, and the soliloquies studied show this clearly. To better understand how and why Shakespeare uses dramatic devices, language, punctuation and imagery, to create effects, it would be beneficial to look at a brief background of the play, along with Shakespeare's writing style and the idea of a 'Tragic Hero' evident in his tragedies. Clearly, the tragic hero in question is Hamlet. Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's most acclaimed tragedies, was written in about 1602, and published in 1624. Shakespeare, it would appear, set it in the 16th Century, however the time period fluctuates depending on the group who perform it. Kenneth Brannagh's version, for example, is set in the early 19th century; this much can be ascertained simply by costume and technology shown within the production, Hamlet. Hamlet is written in blank verse, usually unrhymed iambic pentameter. Hamlet himself is what is known as a tragic hero; in Shakespearian context, the term 'tragic hero' usually refers to someone high-born, in a difficult situation; they must resolve this situation, however their 'fatal flaw' often prevents them from doing so. The 'fatal flaw' is common in Shakespearian tragedies, meaning literally that: a character flaw which usually leads to their brutal demise, and the death of those around them; the death of friends and family in the case of Hamlet. Hamlet's fatal flaw is his indecision, something clearly shown in the three selected soliloquies; by the second and third he has recognised this, however he still does nothing about it. ...read more.

Middle

die' simply doesn't emphasise the fact that they are opposites as much as 'to be or not to be', as here Shakespeare shows it is one idea (life) or not that idea. The fact that he mentions 'not to be' shows that he seeks oblivion, complete non-existence. Non-existence is what Hamlet sees death as at the beginning of the soliloquy. However his state of mind shifts, even within this same soliloquy, when he describes death as an 'undiscovered country'. This is after he has considered the idea of death, and mused upon the prospect of an afterlife. Shakespeare made the comparison between death and an undiscovered country because it was topical; at the time it was performed, the 'New World' was still being discovered, and explorers didn't always come back. This increases the audience appeal because they would understand this, in the social context of Shakespeare's time; they would be able to better understand this analogy of a philosophical concept of after-life. Life is seen as a constant battle by Hamlet, and to represent this Shakespeare utilises military imagery throughout the soliloquy. Hamlet speaks of life as suffering 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'; he clearly feels that fate is against him. This line also shows that Hamlet feels he is involved in some form of conflict with himself, his uncle and life itself. The military imagery, of which the quote is only one example of many, is present throughout the soliloquy showing he feels attacked from all sides, and he feels that this causes him suffering. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here he begins to realise his fatal flaw, yet considers no remedial or preventative action. Action, in particular the lack of it, is a major theme within the third soliloquy. Punctuation changes as there are fewer question marks and caesuras, with exclamation marks opening and closing the soliloquy. Shakespeare does this to try and show Hamlet's effort to be more proactive. The idea of sleep in this soliloquy is used to compare Hamlet's lack of action and Fortinbras's soldiers' bravery. Other such opposites in the play compare Hamlet with Fortinbras and his army, showing Hamlet's perspective changing as he looks progressively inwards as the play draws to a climactic conclusion. In conclusion, Hamlet at first tries to generalise his situation, and is contemplating suicide. By the second soliloquy, he speaks of life as little more than suffering wrongs, and feels that fate seem to conspire against him. Here he begins to look inwards, as his state of mind has stabilised slightly; he is no longer reeling from the initial shock of events. He begins to think more rationally, and starts to realise his fatal flaw. By the third soliloquy his mind is geared far more towards inward reflection; he sees Fortinbras as the prince he could, and should, have been like. Here he has all but submitted to despair and self-loathing, with a hint of jealousy towards Fortinbras. He resolves to be more strong-headed, finally trying to take action against his fatal flaw. Unfortunately for Hamlet, this revelation comes all too late and he only really acts impulsively when he knows he has been fatally poisoned, and faced certain death. Harry Dayantis 11L 1 ...read more.

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