The purpose of a soliloquy is to outline the thoughts and feelings of a certain character at a point in the play. It reveals the innermost beliefs of the character and offers an unbiased perspective as it is merely the character talking to the audience, albeit not directly, and not to any other characters who may cause the character to withhold their true opinions. Therefore, Hamlet's first soliloquy (act 1, scene 2) is essential to the play as it highlights his inner conflict caused by the events of the play. It reveals his true feelings and as such emphasizes the difference between his public appearance, his attitude towards Claudius in the previous scene is less confrontational than here where he is directly insulted as a "satyr", and his feelings within himself. In this essay, I will outline how Shakespeare communicates the turmoil of Hamlet's psyche.
Hamlet's despair stems from his mother's marriage to his uncle and it is this that is the driving force behind what is communicated. His constant repetition of the time in which it took the two to get married, "But two months dead...yet within a month...A little month...Within a month...most wicked speed", suggests his disgust at the situation and that it is not necessarily the nature of their "incestuous" relationship that troubles Hamlet; more the short time in which it occurred. In fact, this is especially well communicated to the audience as, throughout the soliloquy, the passage of time that Hamlet describes gets less from "two months" to "Within a month". This has the effect of outlining Hamlet's supposed contempt of his mother for only mourning a month whilst also highlighting that it is the time involved that is vexing him a...
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...t only through the diction but also through the imagery, language and underlying messages of the text. It successfully highlights the divisions of character of Hamlet whilst aiding the audience in building a connection with him.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Boklund, Gunnar. "Hamlet." Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.
Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.
Mack, Maynard. "The World of Hamlet." Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.
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