Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - The To be or not to be Soliloquy

Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - The To be or not to be Soliloquy

Length: 1959 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Hamlet -- the “To be or not to be” Soliloquy  

 
    In William Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Hamlet the fourth of the seven soliloquies by the hero is generally considered exceptional and more famous than the others. This essay will examine and analyze this soliloquy, and explore the reasons for its fame.

 

This famous soliloquy manifests the expression of very deep and conflicting emotions. Ruth Nevo in “Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging” explains the basic conflict within the hero’s most famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy:

 

Since we know what Hamlet’s obligatory task is, we cannot but register the possibility that the taking of arms and the “enterprises of great pitch and moment” refer to the killing of Claudius, though the logic of the syntax makes them refer to the self-slaughter which is the subject of the whole disquisition. And conversely, because self-slaughter is the ostensible subject of the whole disquisition, we cannot read the speech simply as a case of conscience in the matter of revenge – Christian revenge and the secular sanctions and motivations of honor. (46)

 

Is the fourth soliloquy addressing only the prince’s specific situation? Or is it applicable universally to humankind? Lawrence Danson in the essay “Tragic Alphabet” discusses the most famous of soliloquies as involving an “eternal dilemma”:

 

 The problem of time’s discrediting effects upon human actions and intentions is what makes Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy eternal dilemma rather than fulfilled dialectic. Faced with  the uncertainty of any action, an uncertainty that extends even to the afterlife, Hamlet, too, finds the “wick or snuff” of which Claudius speaks: “Thus conscience” – by...


... middle of paper ...


...ons: 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 No line nos.

 

 

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - To be or not to be Soliloquy Essay

- The “To be or not to be” Soliloquy in Hamlet       One soliloquy stands out above the others in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Of the seven soliloquies by the protagonist, the “To be or not to be” soliloquy is universally recognized as superior to the others. This essay considers this most famous soliloquy.   Marchette Chute in “The Story Told in Hamlet” describes just how close the hero is to suicide while reciting his most famous soliloquy:    Hamlet enters, desperate enough by this time to be thinking of suicide....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Powerful Essays
2232 words (6.4 pages)

The Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - To be or not to be Soliloquy Essay

- The “To be or not to be” Soliloquy within Hamlet       The fame of one particular soliloquy by the hero in Shakespeare’s Hamlet logically requires that special consideration be given to said speech. And such is the intent of this essay.   In “Superposed Plays” Richard A. Lanham discusses this most famous of all the soliloquies:   The King and Polonius dangle Ophelia as bait and watch. Hamlet sees this. He may even be, as W. A. Bebbington suggested, reading the “To be or not to be” speech from a book, using it, literally, as a stage prop to bemuse the spyers-on, convince them of his now-become-suicidal-madness....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Powerful Essays
2221 words (6.3 pages)

The Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - To be or not to be Soliloquy Essay

- The “To be or not to be” Soliloquy of Hamlet       Does the hero in Shakespeare’s Hamlet deliver a soliloquy that does not fit the dramatic context. Does the soliloquy suggest that suicide is imminent. This essay proposes to answer these and other questions relevant to the “To be or not to be” soliloquy.   Lawrence Danson in the essay “Tragic Alphabet” discusses the most famous of soliloquies as involving an “eternal dilemma”:    The problem of time’s discrediting effects upon human actions and intentions is what makes Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy eternal dilemma rather than fulfilled dialectic....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Powerful Essays
2233 words (6.4 pages)

Shakespeare's Soliloquies - Hamlet’s Soliloquy Essay

- Hamlet's Soliloquy             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....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

The Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - To be or not to be Soliloquy Essay

- Hamlet --  “To be or not to be” Soliloquy      When the Bard of Avon created Hamlet, he simultaneously created the famous soliloquy ever uttered by English-speaking men. Thus it is that literary critics rank Hamlet’s fourth soliloquy as the most notable ever penned. Let’s examine in this essay how such a high ranking is deserved, and what the soliloquy means.   In his essay “An Explication of the Player’s Speech,” Harry Levin refers to the fourth soliloquy as the most famous of them all:   Dwelling on gross details and imperfections of the flesh (“Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight”), Hamlet will admonish his mother that sense-perception is dulled by sensual indulgence....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
2240 words (6.4 pages)

Essay on Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet - Hamlet's Third Soliloquy

- Hamlet's Third Soliloquy One of Shakespeare's most celebrated works is the play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet, the main character, endures many of the misfortunes of life that the average - and not-so average - person might suffer. Hamlet's father dies a suspicious death and his mother hastily remarries, he bears the trauma of a lost relationship with a girl he seems to truly love, realizes the truth about his own uncle's involvement in his father's death, and experiences all of this in the public eye....   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
963 words (2.8 pages)

Soliloquy Essay - Theatre and Language in the Soliloquies of Shakespeare's Hamlet

- Theatre and Language in the Soliloquies of Hamlet     The first Folio is prefaced with an address to the reader to "Read him again and again". In terms of words and action, Hamlet is the most self conscious play about its own theatricality. Words and actions throughout the play are inextricably linked, as is the notion of "playing" a part. From the outset of the play we see evidence of the external show compared with the underlying reality. In Act One, Hamlet's speech to Gertrude (Nay seems...etc) shows us the Prince talking about actions that a man "might play" and also about what is "inside" him which "passes show"....   [tags: Essays on Shakespeare Hamlet]

Powerful Essays
1168 words (3.3 pages)

Soliloquy Essay - Famous Soliloquies in Shakespeare's Hamlet

- The Famous Soliloquies in Hamlet         This essay goes into the Who, the How and the Why of Hamlet’s famous soliloquies in Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet.   Samuel Taylor Coleridge comments on the hero’s first soliloquy:   Few have seen a celebrated waterfall without feeling something akin to disappointment : it is only subsequently that the image comes back full into the mind, and brings with it a train of grand or beautiful associations. Hamlet feels this; his senses are in a state of trance, and he looks upon external things as hieroglyphics....   [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]

Powerful Essays
1925 words (5.5 pages)

The Soliloquies Of Shakespeare 's Hamlet Essay

- Are themes always mentioned in the soliloquies of Shakespeare’s plays. In William Shakespeare’s dark and symbolic play, Hamlet, he reveals the major themes of revenge, clarity and death through the soliloquies in order to clarify the plot of the story. Firstly, Shakespeare demonstrates the theme of revenge in the play’s soliloquies. The first soliloquy where Hamlet seeks for revenge occurs when he discovers from his father’s ghost that Claudius murdered his father. This information triggers Hamlet to determine a plan to get vengeance....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Soliloquy]

Powerful Essays
1804 words (5.2 pages)

Soliloquy Essays - Analysis of Hamlet's Soliloquies

- Analysis of Hamlet's Soliloquies "To be or not to be--that is the question..." Many people incorrectly interpret those famous words of Hamlet's, not knowing the true meaning or background behind his speech. In his soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates whether or not he should take it upon himself to act accordingly to his uncle's/step-father's crime against his own father. However, later on in the play, Hamlet realizes Fortinbras' resolve and his quest for victory. By witnessing Fortinbras and his actions, Hamlet comes to realize that he has no inner struggle and sees the actions that he must take in order to bring inner peace to himself and avenge his father's murder....   [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]

Free Essays
630 words (1.8 pages)