Claudius soliloquy Hamlet

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Act 3, scene 3

This is Claudius’s soliloquy.

At this point in the play, Claudius has just seen the play replicating the murder of his own brother. He realizes that Hamlet has found out the truth, and is shocked by it. He quickly stops the play and rush out to his chapel where he begins his soliloquy.

This soliloquy is a fail attempt to pray and receive redemption from god.

Claudius tries desperately to pray to god. Even though he realizes that “Pray can I not,” syntax here is used to emphasize the word pray, he doesn’t give up and ask “is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens to wash it white as snow?” The rhetorical question reveals his desperation as although he already knows the answer, he is willing to try and ask god for help. The tone here is pleading. This is his attempt to question god and ask for redemption. Additionally, the used of the word “snow” which symbolizes purity juxtaposes his act of “a brother’s murder”. Similarly, the colour “white” also opposes the colour of blood. Moreover, his choice of words of the “sweet heaven” may be interpret as an attempt to bribe god, therefore revealing his desperation and despair, emphasizing the seriousness of the crime he’s committed.

In addition, the feeling of despair is further supported by the repetition of sighing “O, my offence is rank”, “O, what form of prayer can serve my turn?” and “O limed soul, that, struggling to be free.” The last quote conveys the fact that he is trapped, and the more he tries to escape the more he’s “engaged.” Additionally, Claudius even tries to force himself to pray, using the imperative “bow, stubborn knees.” This personification, however, is self revealing irony as it shows that he is too proud and has too much dignity, thus one of the causes for the fail attempt to pray.

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On top of this, Claudius even tries to ask directly for god’s help as he shouts “Help angels! Make assay!” The short sentences quickened the pace and create a tone of panic. Furthermore, the use of the exclamation marks emphasizes the line and implies that he is desperate, whilst the use of the word “assay” meaning attempt again shows that he is in despair and fear. He is in such a state that even just an attempt would be enough. The fact that he seems so desperate to be forgiven create a slight pity in the audiences, especially when ...

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