Soliloquy in Hamlet

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・Literature ・MLA ・1 Sources

Although Shakespeare's Hamlet is one of the most famous plays, it is also one of the most controversial, with scholars continuing to disagree about how the play should be interpreted. The work's importance in typifying Elizabethan views on royal succession, faith, and authority is one such centrality. The Marxist idea of representability underpins literary critique, with scholars claiming that all works of art depict real social problems. The centrality arises from the ideas in the current stock of literature, where some critics have argued that the literary device is irrelevant in the drama as it only serves the artificial and theatrical role. The discussion disputes the views, where the exploration justifies the importance of soliloquies in not only plot development and understanding the character of Hamlet, but also making the play a historical artifact of the Elizabethan era.

A soliloquy is a dramatic device that entails expression one’s feeling and motive to the audience. The speech is one of the most profound revelations of the real character as it primarily involves feelings and emotions. Its criticality is exemplified by Hamlet, where it supports the development of the main plot, characterization, the aura of the play, as well as the scholastic value of the work in the Elizabethan history. The first instance where Shakespeare exploits the power of soliloquy in developing the character profile is Act I, Scene 2, where Hamlet is reflecting on his life as well as that of his parents. Hamlet says the world has grown stale, weary, unprofitable, and flat and is bringing sadness and pain. He is disgruntled by his mother’s marriage to Claudius and wishes she never remarried. He laments that she has a worn out shoe, something that never happened during his father’s regime. He describes him as so excellent a king’, a status the bestial ‘satyr’ Claudius has not achieved. The scene highlights the theme of misogyny, where Hamlet suggests that the marriage between Claudius and Gertrude is incestuous.

Soliloquy helps in creating the first impression of Hamlet as an intelligent young man, who expresses a deep sense of morality (Nuttall 196). Nevertheless, he is depressed, tortured, and full of negative thoughts. He is an intellect who explores religious and philosophical views before embarking on a journey of acting. The scene helps the audience in understanding the background of the melancholy in the play, as well as feelings of dejection that turns Hamlet suicidal. Besides characterization, the soliloquy also offers structural support to the plot development. The scene is a forthright screenshot of the whole play, where it sets the tone of the play as a tragic drama. The summative role is complemented by juxtaposition to highlight the atmosphere of pathos. While Hamlet is disgusted, he acknowledges his inadequacy in changing things. He sees himself as a captive to his flesh and wishes to dissolve like dew. While the opening sentence of the soliloquy captures his desire for spiritual peace, Hamlet idea of the duality of human nature contrasts his wishes. He notes that his body possesses permanence beyond the ephemeral nature of the dew.

Another influential soliloquy is ‘to be or not to be’ (Act III, Scene 1), where Hamlet presents a compelling and logical justification of revenge in the midst of unbearable events and pain in his life. He engages the audience in exploring the moral issues surrounding self-murder by asking, ‘Is it nobler to suffer life, “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” passively or to actively seek to end one’s suffering? Hamlet is being disturbed by the revelation from the ghost of his father that he was murdered by Claudius, who then proceeded to marry his mother hurriedly. While he does not treat his mother well, Hamlet has no power and explores suicide and vengeance as solutions. While he sees self-murder as the only solution to his heartaches, his religion forbids suicide. He is mindful of what will happen in the afterlife if he acts against the religious teachings (Nuttall 196).

Although the soliloquy does not play any role in advancing the plot, it completes the theme of melancholy and revenge. Hamlet concludes that vengeance is a noble idea, preparing the audience for the tragedy in the final scene (III, i, 98). However, the most important role of the scene is representability, where it exemplifies the Elizabethan ideas of reason and passion. Philosophers argued that people choose to endure the injustices of the world over taking their life because they did not know what awaited them in the afterlife.

In conclusion, the role of soliloquy in Hamlet helps in highlighting the value of meditation is addressing psychosocial issues. Reflecting helps Hamlet in exploring possible solutions to distress in his life and the technique can help people is withstanding stress and traumas, and thus cushioning them against PSTD, insomnia, psychological drain, as well as depression. The technique provides balance between physical and spiritual aspects, allowing people to be productive and attain fulfillment in life.

Works Cited

Nuttall, A. D. Shakespeare the Thinker. 1st ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

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