Soliolquy in Shakespeare´s Hamlet and The Reverger´s Tragedy

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Shakespeare uses soliloquy as a dramatic tool to unveil the man behind the disguise. The true nature of the protagonist, Hamlet, is riddled by false appearances and deliberate attempts to deceive characters within the play, mainly characterised by his conscious intention “To put on an antic disposition”. Whilst the audience is disorientated by Hamlet’s erratic moods and inconsistent behaviour – the alternation between passive inaction, failing to act when he has an opportunity to avenge and kill Claudius whilst he prays, and volatile linguistic attacks in Gertrude’s chamber – the soliloquies provide consistency. They are intimate, private, confessional accounts in which Hamlet does not have to ‘act’ as he does around other characters. Therefore they serve to distinguish the original Hamlet from the specious character he plays within the play itself. Similarly in The Revenger’s Tragedy, Middleton attempts to separate Vindice from the role he adopts as the pander. However, the consequences of these revelations of truth are divergent. Whilst in The Revenger’s Tragedy, Vindice is able to disconnect genuine feeling from necessary action, and acts contrary to the emotions revealed in his asides, Hamlet’s soliloquies indicate his course of action. The reluctance to act that Hamlet expresses in his soliloquies translates to his ineffectuality at revenging his father’s death. Throughout the play, Shakespeare’s use of soliloquies provides commentary and insight for the audience so that they can decipher between false impressions and the real Hamlet behind the disguise.

The restrained and measured dialogue between Hamlet and Claudius’ in the Court is juxtaposed by the impassioned nature of the first soliloquy. Sentence structures in the sol...

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...ctations whereas soliloquy offers confidential privacy, we would expect that soliloquy was better suited to character confession and therefore the presentation of Hamlet that Shakespeare constructs in soliloquy, is a more convincing model of the true character.

The comparison between dialogue and soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet provides an alternate perspective upon a potentially perplexing protagonist, whose erratic and changeable behaviour has obstructed audiences from forming definitive conclusions. Whilst the conditions of soliloquy lend itself to the protagonist speaking truthfully, this inference can only be made by linking the concerns Hamlet expresses in soliloquy to the course of action he undertakes, whereas in a play so deeply riddled by false appearances and deliberate self-restraint, critics remain in conflict as to the true nature of Hamlet himself.
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