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Without soliloquies we have little understanding of Hamlet's state of mind. Do you agree?

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Introduction

Without soliloquies we have little understanding of Hamlet's state of mind. Do you agree? The term 'soliloquy,' when defined in literary terms, is described as 'a dramatic convention which allows a character in a play to speak directly to the audience about his motives, feelings and decisions as if he were thinking aloud. Part of the convention is that a soliloquy provides accurate access to the character's innermost thoughts: we learn more about the character than could ever be gathered from the actions of the play.' Therefore, by definition, we have a considerably weaker understanding of a text without soliloquies. Soliloquies played a major part in many Elizabethan plays as they served as a useful narration device for the audience and gave them a clear insight into the character's feelings, motivation and reasons behind their actions at a specific point in a play. They also give the audience an idea of what the character may be doing later in the play as their future actions are also outlined in their soliloquies. It can also be noted that soliloquies take the format of the character's line of thought, which furthers our understanding of the character's mindset. ...read more.

Middle

Not a word is wasted; every syllable and each sound expresses the depth of reflection and the intensity of his emotion. The soliloquies are, in effect, the hidden plot of the play because, if one puts them side-by-side, one notices that the character of Hamlet goes through a development, again enriching our understanding. By comprehending the developments in Hamlet's character, we can understand the developments in the plot. After reading Hamlet, it is clear that in this 'Shakespearian 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 the essential greater insight into Hamlet's true character. They are all centred on the most 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.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The first soliloquy gives the audience a picture of Hamlet's thoughts at this point in the play; although his depression and mourning are made clear earlier by his black attire etc, the audience is not made aware of the reasons behind his mourning, such as his hatred of his uncle and belief that his mother had betrayed his father. Significantly, Hamlet also gives us a brief background of events leading up to the beginning of the play. Hamlet also lets the audience know his dilemmas and the fact he must 'hold his tongue' and speak his grief. Again, without this soliloquy, we could be led to think that Hamlet is a nondescript character without particularly strong feelings. With the aid of this soliloquy we know his feelings on all the issues facing him, we know the cause of his silence, adding to our impression of him as a character. In conclusion, I agree with the statement entirely; Hamlet's soliloquies are of fundamental importance in establishing, developing, and consolidating our understanding. The soliloquies are our only way of really understanding Hamlet's true state of mind, and therefore our only way of truly understanding the play. Without them, Hamlet lacks the rudiments which have ensured that its brilliance goes down in history as one of Shakespeare's finest pieces. Charlie Matthews 12CAS 09/05/2007 1 of 3 ...read more.

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