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What do Hamlet's soliloquies reveal about his state of mind and how do they relate to the audience?

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Introduction

MEGAN MCCLUSKIE ADVANCED HIGHER ENLGISH ESSAY WHAT DO HAMLET'S SOLILOQUIES REVEAL ABOUT HIS STATE OF MIND AND HOW DO THEY RELATE TO THE AUDIENCE? After reading 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare it is clear that in this 'Shakespearean tragedy' the soliloquies are particularly important because in the atmosphere of spying and intrigue where Hamlet constantly has to watch what he says, and in his assumed madness, it is only when he is alone that we can hope to learn his true feelings. In total, there are seven of Hamlet's soliloquies, each providing the reader with a greater insight into Hamlet's true character. They are all centred on the most important existential themes: the emptiness of suicide, death, suffering, action, a fear of death which puts off the most momentous decisions, the fear of the beyond, the degradation of flesh, the triumph of vice over virtue, the pride and hypocrisy of humans, and the difficulty of acting under thought which 'makes cowards of us all.' Four of his soliloquies deserve our special attention: 'O that this too sullied flesh would melt',(Act One, Scene Two) 'O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!', (Act Two; Scene Two) 'To be, or not to be, that is the question', (Act Three; Scene One) and 'How all occasions do inform against me.' ...read more.

Middle

He cannot understand the lack of taste she displayed in choosing Claudius, who, he feels cannot compete with his father. He expresses a sense of disgust with his mother and with women in general: 'frailty, thy name is woman.' He is hurt and miserable, and has to keep quite. His grief clearly goes beyond 'normal' mourning for a loved one. This soliloquy also hints at even at this stage Hamlet may not find avenging his father's death an easy task. When he says 'And shall I couple hell?' (Act One; scene five; line 93) perhaps Hamlet is aware of the enormity of the task and of the awesome implications of involvement with evil. When he says, 'O cursed spite That ever I was born to set it right,' he seems to be experiencing unease and a sense of reluctance. Hamlet's attitude is different in 'To be, or not to be,' from that of his first soliloquy. He asks himself about death beyond religious considerations; the nature of his dilemma has changed. This soliloquy, probably the most famous speech in the English language, is spoken by Hamlet in Act Three; Scene One .This contains Shakespeares' most logical and powerful examination of the theme of the moral legitimacy of suicide in an unbearably painful world, and it touches on several of the other important themes of the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

This reveals that Hamlet is in fact not as mad as he appears. In this soliloquy, Hamlet's language is stamped with relentless change in tone, the peaks of rage inter-cut with short moments of profound depression or of incredulous questioning. Hamlet comments on the way the actor seemed moved by his lines, whereas he, with a very real cause for grief, can say nothing. Hamlet blames himself for not yet having taken revenge for his father's murder. He calls himself a coward for making use of words, not deeds: "Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words." (Act two; scene two, lines 591-592). In conclusion, the soliloquies reveal Hamlet's true state of mind. Throughout these soliloquies the audience relates to Hamlet and we believe we are witnessing Hamlet's true feelings. When Hamlet is left alone, he expresses a variety of attitudes to death and at different times in the play his moods range from intense fear of the unknown to seeing death as a welcome release from the agonies and injustices of life. Also, during these soliloquies we learn about Hamlet's mood of despair and frustration at avenging his father's death. We also see his thoughts on the conscience, which prolongs him in killing his father's murderer, although his desire to never fades. Through the soliloquies we form a rapport with Hamlet and discover his true state of mind. ...read more.

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