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Select two soliloquies from Hamlet and analyse their significance to the play as a whole

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Introduction

Harry Street Select two soliloquies from Hamlet and analyse their significance to the play as a whole In this essay I will consider the significance of the soliloquies in Shakespeare's Hamlet. When Shakespeare wrote his plays he intended to make them entertaining for the era of his time, which was of course the Elizabethan era. At this time there was no technology available, and going to the theatre was the only real form of entertainment that was offered to the people. To ensure that the plays were enjoyable, Shakespeare had to include aspects that were relevant to the people, so that they could relate to what was happening. During the Elizabethan period teachings of Greek mythology were very common, and Shakespeare does relate parts of Greek mythology in the play, so that the audience have more understanding. Also, most Elizabethans were convinced that they lived in a world that God had created, and the christen view that mankind was redeemed by Christ was rarely challenged by Elizabethans. As the majority of Elizabethans were Christians, Shakespeare uses aspects of Christianity in Hamlet, once again so that the audience can relate to the feelings that are portrayed. At the beginning of a soliloquy there is only one character present, all the others that were in the scene must leave the room before the soliloquy starts. This is because a soliloquy is a dramatic monologue where a single character reflects upon unspoken thoughts. At the start of a soliloquy the audience immediately know that it will bare enormous relevance to the rest of the play, as it displays the emotional state of the character making the speech. The first soliloquy is in Act 1 scene 2, opening with the line 'O that this too solid flesh would melt.' Previous to this soliloquy, Shakespeare has created a very tense, urgent and ominous atmosphere, using aspects of the supernatural to scare the audience. ...read more.

Middle

In the first soliloquy, themes such as anger, frustration and treachery are developed. Shakespeare uses Hamlet to express these views, in the form of a soliloquy. It is clear that Hamlet is becoming depressed with the situation that he has found himself in, "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable". All of these words are negative, and create an angered tone of voice, this would have been evident to the audience. The way that Shakespeare allows the audience to see what is happening in Hamlet's mind, leads them to anticipate what will happen in the rest of the play, which would obviously endure their interest. "But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue." These words show that Hamlet is going to hold back on his feelings, and therefore increasing the tension amongst the other characters, which would have left the audience dying to know what is going to happen later in the play. After the first soliloquy Horatio and Marcellus join Hamlet. Horatio tells Hamlet that he believes that he saw the spirit of his father last night. Hamlet appears to be lightened of his pressures, and feels that he has hope that he can still see his father. "The king my father!" Horatio tells Hamlet "I knew your father, these hands are not more like" Hamlet immediately questions, "But where was this?" This shows that Hamlet believes that there is a chance that he can still see his father, and that spirits do exist. The themes that are created in this first soliloquy have arisen from Hamlet's anger at his mother, Gertrude, who has just married his uncle straight after his father has just died. "A little month, or ere those shoes were old which she followed my poor father's body." The use of the words "ere those shoes were old" is a metaphor that means that Gertrude has married too soon. ...read more.

Conclusion

It shows that Hamlet still is unsure if the pain that he is suffering is worth living for. Shakespeare uses onomatopoeic verbs that describe the life that people endure: "To grunt and sweat under a weary life". These verbs create a harsh sound, this approximates life's harshness. Hamlet is also clearly worried about Heaven and Hell: "The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will" Hamlet is simply saying that no one actually knows what Heaven and Hell are like, as no one has ever returned from either. It is one of life's unanswered mysteries. This would appeal to the audience, as it is also a mystery to them, and guide their thought processes as Shakespeare would have intended. The dramatic effect of this soliloquy is vital to the play. It produces historical lines, "To be, or not to be, that is the question" which would not only leave the audience at the time wrapped up in Shakespeare's use of language, but even people of today's world. The physiological thoughts of afterlife in this soliloquy are so vivid and powerful, they are crucial to the development of Hamlet's character. The various different scenarios that Hamlet could be left in invite the audience to think about what would happen to them. Whether to suffer life's pain, or to take the easy route out. However the easy route out has unknown mysteries that certainly prevent Hamlet from committing suicide. The soliloquy shows the importance of turning thoughts into actions, which is still significant in people's lives today. The fear that you would be condemned to Hell was more frightening in Elizabethan times. This would have been true for the audience that this play was intended for. Comparing the two soliloquies, the audience's involvement is heightened from mere allusions, to Greek myths. This expresses the complexity in personality, emotional state and beliefs of Hamlet's character. The soliloquies successfully show Hamlet as a dramatic character, who's morals and beliefs help him to overcome obstacles in life. ...read more.

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