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Soliloquy Essay - Hamlet's First Three Soliloquies

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Hamlet's First Three Soliloquies

Hamlet's words consistently attempt to translate abstract thought into

concrete understandable forms. The characters surrounding Hamlet

(except Horatio) never grasp Hamlet's leveled meanings, and he

constantly struggles with (yet sometimes manipulates) this

misunderstanding. On periodic occasions, Hamlet is left alone on

stage, able to express his thoughts-unmasked, pithy, direct, complete.

These occurrences comprise Hamlet's soliloquies, and each reveals

succinctly and powerfully Hamlet's state of mind as each soliloquy is

delivered throughout the play.

"O that this too too solid flesh would melt" is Hamlet's utterance of

requested suicide to initiate his first soliloquy. Suicide is only

unattainable for Hamlet in lieu of his intense personal piety: if he

commits suicide, he will surely lose salvation. However, Hamlet's

religious awe begs the question; why would Hamlet want to kill himself

anyway? Is Hamlet's life really overwhelmingly impounding,

horrifically unmanageable? After all, he is the prince of Denmark, a

title of honor and affluence coveted by surrounding characters.

The answer lies in an examination of Hamlet's character. Hamlet is

driven (especially at the inception of the play) by strict moral

sensibility. He strives to act in a morally correct manner in every

situation or dilemma. Furthermore, Hamlet feels akin or at least

feels a responsibility to guide and supervise his mother, Gertrude.

Both these character traits are under intense pressure in the context

of the opening soliloquy. Hamlet seeks to resolve Gertrude's actions

in his mind; he tries to associ...

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...hard A. “Superposed Plays.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from The Motives of Eloquence: Literary Rhetoric in the Renaissance. N.p.: Yale University Press, 1976.

Levin, Harry. “An Explication of the Player’s Speech.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from The Question of Hamlet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959.

Nevo, Ruth. “Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from Tragic Form in Shakespeare. N.p.: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html
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