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What is the importance of the Soliloquies in Hamlet? Do they show any development of his character?

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Introduction

AS Hamlet Coursework Essay Q. What is the importance of the Soliloquies in Hamlet? Do they show any development of his character? A soliloquy is a dramatic speech spoken by a character who is alone on stage, or believes themselves to be alone. This device allows a character in a play to speak directly to the audience about their motives, feelings and decisions. They reveal the characters innermost thoughts and traditionally contain no lies or deception as the character is revealing their true thoughts and emotions. Hamlet's soliloquies give the impression of a man discovering himself as he speaks. The importance of the soliloquies in Hamlet are therefore crucial to the development of his character and of course the development of the play. Hamlet's first soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 2, reveals that Hamlet is depressed to such an extent that he does not wish to live; these feelings emerge following the death of his father and the indecent swiftness of the remarriage of his mother to his uncle and, the new King, Claudius. 'O that this too too solid flesh would melt , Thaw and resolve itself into a dew...' Act 1-2-129/130 The word 'too' is repeated to enhance the emphasis on what Hamlet is saying; here the prince wants to vanish, he wants his body to melt away which provides the audience with a weak initial portrayal of Hamlet's character. ...read more.

Middle

Hamlet's tone is much more philosophical in the fourth soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1. Hamlet is not alone on stage in this soliloquy, Ophelia is present; Hamlet is unaware of her presence however, which is why it is still a soliloquy. The tone and therefore the development of Hamlet's true character are much calmer and reflective than its predecessors. I believe the main flaw in Hamlet's character as could be seen by the audience is his inability to control his emotions, his mind and his tendency to procrastinate over matter of importance and not take actions. However, in this soliloquy there is intelligence of Hamlet thinking through his problems without being sidetracked to revulsion which is a major development in his character up until this point. The opening line with the use of caesura, 'To be, or not to be', is showing the audience that Hamlet is again thinking of suicide. The metaphor in the line 'take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them', would create a violent image in the audience's minds. Hamlet is expressing that he feels that trying to set the world right would be like 'self-slaughter'. It detains his feelings of being imbalanced to the task that has been assigned to him. ...read more.

Conclusion

He compares Fortinbras to himself: 'How I stand then, That have a father killed, a mother stained...' Act 4-4-55/56 He believes that he has let his father die immorally and that his mother's reputation has been contaminated due to her marriage to Claudius. Hamlet's final words sound determined: 'O from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth'. Act 4-4-65/66 Hamlet here seems to have reached a new level of realisation and it seems his revenge would take place imminently. However, the audience may feel this is ironic as so often have Hamlet's ineffective actions contradicted his words. Hamlet is a prince sworn to take revenge of his father's murder but it is not until the very end of the play that he finally manages to kill Claudius. Throughout his soliloquies he seems a confused Prince with an unbalanced mind and the assumption to why he kills Claudius in the end of the play rather than before, begins with Hamlet himself; he himself wonders if he is a coward. Hamlet's soliloquies are of immense importance as they show a large development in his character; from a bloodthirsty revenger and a self-critical performer, to a thoughtful academic. Hamlet's soliloquies are so effective that they view the mounting and changing thoughts of a character capable of ending the play so early when he first has reason to; maybe that is why Shakespeare chose to make his character an apparently weak-willed one. ?? ?? ?? ?? Priya Sethi Page 1 ...read more.

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This is a very good essay that considers the purpose and effects of the soliloquies and Hamlet's character. To increase the strength of analysis consider how links can be made between the soliloquies.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 26/06/2013

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