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Hamlet's soliloquy in Act II, Scene i is governed by reasons and self-doubts unlike his two previous soliloquies which are governed by frenzied emotion.

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Introduction

Shakespeare Passage Commentary Hamlet's soliloquy in Act II, Scene i is governed by reasons and self-doubts unlike his two previous soliloquies which are governed by frenzied emotion. Not yet convinced of the truth in ghost and murderer, Hamlet vacillates over choices which has different results. Shakespeare depicts Hamlet's problems of choosing right action by using imagery, diction, and voice. Shakespeare uses militaristic images to depict the violence of the struggle within the Hamlet's mind. Hamlet refers "slings", "arrows", and "taking arms" while describing his choices of actions. His uses of images of war suggest that each action would be a dilemma or a war to Hamlet. The situation suggests an inevitable defeat and how Hamlet is bound to meet failure in both passive and active resistance. He is fully aware that he would either have to "suffer" or face the "sea of troubles" ahead of him. As both ways would lead to a personal battle that promises inevitable troubles, Hamlet even thinks of killing himself. ...read more.

Middle

He does not refer Ophelia to a holy woman or to other Christianized names, but uses pagan name when he sees Ophelia praying. Hamlet, in this respect, is more attached to pagan beliefs. The belief of Hamlet leads him to believe in the existence of his father's ghost and thus take revenge for his father. The referred name also indicates that he is still in love with Ophelia. He emerges from his intense personal reflection and implores Ophelia, his lover, to pray for him and remember in her prayers. Shakespeare uses dictions to suggest Hamlet's agony and pain while he hesitates what to do. Hamlet says whether it is better to keep on living a miserable life or to die and face the unknown afterlife. He severally mentions "to die", "to sleep", and "to dream" as even "death" itself is divided into "sleep", which is desirable to Hamlet, and "dreams". ...read more.

Conclusion

He weighs and balances one alternative against another and this opening vacillation is continued throughout the soliloquy. The sequences of questions followed by the first question suggest that Hamlet poses several other questions rather than finding an answer to his initial question - to be a person of action, or not to be a person of action. As he imposes further questions, he is "sweating under a weary life" and "puzzle" as he cannot find an answer to his problem and what he truly wants to do. Unlike other soliloquies that provide background information of characters and his future or past actions, Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy takes a different format. Hamlet not only reflects on himself, but also analyzes and observes self and environment, anticipation over his coming future. While other soliloquies provide answers to the listeners, this soliloquy gives no answer to the audience. Rather Hamlet's doubts are continued with audiences, as they too cannot find exact answers. ...read more.

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