How does Shakespeare dramatise Hamlet’s character and state of mind in his Soliloquies?

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How does Shakespeare dramatise Hamlet’s character and state of mind in his Soliloquies?

         Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is set in Denmark. The country is still very much in a period of instability even thought it seems to be settling down. ‘Valiant’ King Hamlet defeated King Fortinbras of Norway and gained his land fairly. The audience is aware that King Hamlet died through the apparition of his ghost but we are not informed of the circumstances under which he died. After King Hamlet’s death his wife Gertrude married his brother Claudius.

        The audience first encounters Hamlet in his first soliloquy (Act 1, Scene 2). We are aware that Hamlet has been mourning. Claudius even describes it as “‘tis unmanly grief;’ which is a very inconsiderate response to someone who is grieving. The audience can sense that there is a lot of tension between Claudius and Hamlet because Hamlet tends to talk only to his mother even when Claudius addresses him. In Hamlet’s first soliloquy the audience sees the scope of Hamlet’s grief,

‘O that this too too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw and resolve itself into dew’

                    (1, 2, 129-130)

 Hamlet is contemplating suicide. Shakespeare repeats ‘too’ twice to show the resilience of Hamlet’s body. Shakespeare uses the metaphor of winter to spring to show Hamlet’s feelings by using winter and spring the audience is able to understand what Hamlet feels. Hamlet is in a state of depression which is signified in the grey of winter. The word ‘melt’ signifies the idea of Hamlet disappearing. Using ‘melt’ in conjunction with ‘solid flesh’ refers to the decomposition process that happens to a dead body when it is buried. ‘Thaw’ is usually used to describe the change of ice from solid to liquid. The idea of ‘thaw’ in this case how ever is Hamlet feels cold with grief and when he is able to ‘thaw’ he will be able to be at peace. Shakespeare uses a homonym ‘a dew’ which is ambiguous in meaning, it fits in with the spring metaphor of a thaw when the ice on plants melts under the heat of the sun and becomes ‘morning dew’. However, because Hamlet is obviously contemplating suicide it could easily be ‘adieu’ which French is for farewell; therefore it is Hamlet’s way of saying good bye to the world. Shakespeare uses this technique again with ‘sullied’ which could be replaced with ‘solid’ which coveys the idea that as well as the body being stubborn it is also dirty, a vessel for sin.

        Shakespeare is trying to establish a bond between his protagonist and audience. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his view on his mother’s marriage. “But two months dead, nay not so much, not two-”  is followed by 6 lines in which Hamlet compares his father to ‘Hyperion’ a God of divine beauty; and Claudius to a ‘Satyr’ which was known for being a lewd man. The use of such extreme similes allows the audience to understand how Hamlet perceives Claudius. This comparison shows Hamlets frustration and incoherence, he starts by saying one thing the completely forgets it and starts on another topic. In the soliloquy Hamlet says or describes the time period of a month three times before the audience find out that ‘within a month … she married’, by repeating the time period Shakespeare creates anticipation within his audience who by the time Hamlet mentions a month for the second time are asking ‘what happened in a month?!’.  Hamlet’s disappointment in his mother’s actions is summed up in ‘Frailty, thy name is woman’ the personification of the abstract noun ‘frailty’ allows it to be held equally to ‘woman’. This is the greatest condemnation of women that Hamlet can think of; it also refers to the social status of women who were seen to be the weak sex during this period. Hereby, acting as a statement which is a validation of his mother’s frailty.

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        There is a huge time gap between Hamlet’s first and second soliloquies possibly of a few weeks as the ambassadors sent to Norway on Act 1 scene 2 have returned in this period of time Hamlet has encountered a ghost that bears a resemblance to his dead father. The ghost has told him that his father was murdered by Claudius and makes Hamlet swear he will seek vengeance. To hide is plan Hamlet has taken on an ‘antic disposition’.  This means hat the soliloquies are even more important because this is the only time when Hamlet can be himself. Nevertheless, ...

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