Introduction: William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet‘ or ‘The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’ was written between 1599 and 1601.
The setting of the play is Denmark. Prince Hamlet ٫ the protagonist of the play is the prince of Denmark. He was studying in Germany. When his father٫ the king of Denmark died٫he was called for its country٫ for the purpose of attending his father’s funeral. After the death of his father٫he was very sad. In addition to this٫ his mother٫ the queen has married to his own uncle Claudius٫ the present king of Denmark٫after just a few months of his father’s death.
Seeing all the above-narrated incidents٫ the Prince became very shocked. Moreover, he wants to know the cause of his father’s death.at the same time٫ his father’s ghost appears in front of him which is seen by Hamlet only. The ghost tells him that he did not die a natural death٫ but murdered by his own uncle Claudius. So Hamlet decides to avenge his uncle.
The frustration of Hamlet about the hasty marriage of his mother٫the revelation of his father’s murder mystery by the ghost and being late in taking revenge from his uncle increase his anger. All these anger and frustrations are expressed through his soliloquies.
What is Soliloquy?
The word ‘soliloquy’ comes from two Latin words ‘solus’ meaning ‘alone’; and ‘loqui’ meaning ‘to speak’. In simple words, it is a literary device through which a character expresses his inner complex and passionate feelings in front of himself. The other characters of the play did not hear his speech; while the spectators are assumed to hear it. Through these soliloquies, the dramatists provide enough information about a particular character, his feelings, motives and intentions.
Here it also should be noted, the soliloquy is different from the dramatic monologue. On one hand, the soliloquy is an expression of a character’s inner feelings; it is not addressed to any other person; on the other hand, in the dramatic monologue, the narrator addresses to a person. In this way, soliloquy and dramatic monologue are two different things.
Soliloquies of Prince Hamlet
There are seven soliloquies which are uttered by Prince Hamlet:
“O, that this too sullied flesh would melt
Thaw and resolved itself into a dew!
How weary, stale and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world
Fie on’t!………… (Act 1.scene 2.lines 129-159)
The first soliloquy of Hamlet expresses his anger about his mother, who has accepted his uncle Claudius as his husband. Hamlet is drowned in grief due to the sudden death of his father. He is not being capable in coming out of loving memory of his father, who was a suitable king and worthy husband for Gertrude. It is his mother’s hasty marriage after his father’s death that has made him very sad. He thinks his mother’s marriage as an evil thing.
He is so dejected that, if religion permitted, he must have done suicide.
“O you all host of heaven! o earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! hold, hold, my heart;
Yea, from the table of my memory
I,ll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all……..
As we know from the study of the play ‘Hamlet’, Prince of Denmark was mourning his father’s death, and hasty marriage of his mother as well. At the same time, his father’s ghost appears in front of him. The ghost discloses the secret of his own death and tells Prince Hamlet that he was murdered by his own brother Claudius. Besides talking about some other things, the ghost requests Prince Hamlet to remember him or his words.
In the soliloquy, Hamlet says that he always will remember his father’s ghost and will forget everything. He makes a firm determination to wipe out all his memory and what he has learnt since his childhood. He will think only of his father’s brutal murder. In this soliloquy, Hamlet condemns his mother and calls his uncle a villain.
The soliloquy clearly hints that Hamlet will take revenge of his father’s murder very soon.
“Now I am alone.
O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here
What is Hecuba to him, or to Hecuba
That he should weep for her? what would he do,
Had he.. …….”
In this soliloquy, Hamlet condemns himself for not taking revenge from his father’s murderer. He calls himself a coward who can only talk and do nothing. He asserts himself, it is hard to believe that he has not got the chance to kill his uncle. He once again rebukes his uncle and declares him as ” a bloody, bawdy villain; remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain.”
This soliloquy does not show any progress in the action. It only reflects Hamlet’s contradictory personality. On one hand; he is eager to take revenge, on the other hand, he doesn’t take any proper action to fulfil his purpose.
“To be,or not to be,that is question:
Whether ’tis nobler mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against sea of troubles,
And by opposing…………”
This is the most philosophical, most famous, most debated and most interpreted soliloquy of Hamlet. It shows a conflict between passion and reason in Hamlet. This soliloquy expresses Hamlet’s meditative nature, his wavering mind; the problem of decision making at the appropriate time. Hamlet talks about all people of the world, so it has a universal appeal as well. Almost every person faces a crucial time in his life, he wants to finish his life, but he restricts himself from doing so due to some reasons that are mentioned in this soliloquy by Hamlet
“This now the very witching time of the night,
When churchyard yawns and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now I could drink hot blood,
(Act3. Scene2. lines 371-382)
This soliloquy describes the night time when witches become active, the churchyard becomes free of man and hell spreads infection in the world. Hamlet says that at such dreadful time of the night he can kill the king. This slaughtering will be so terrible,” the day would quake” after looking it.
In the same soliloquy, he asserts, he can’t kill his mother because she doesn’t deserve to be killed, but her conduct is so shameful, she can be hated.
“Now might I do it pat, now a’ is praying;
And now I’ll don’t. And so he goes to heaven;
And so am I revenged. That would…
Hamlet finds the king when he (the king) is performing his prayers. He changes his plan of killing the king , because if he kills him in prayer, the king will go for heaven and it will not be a revenge to send murderer of its own father in paradise. Hamlet will wait for the correct time to kill the king.
“How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief………….
(Act4. scene4. lines 33-66)
It is a beast, not human that passes a life without any purpose. The Almighty has given human beings the power of reason to make use of it. Hamlet questions himself what are the reasons that have restricted him from doing his task to kill his uncle a long time. This soliloquy once again shows Hamlet’s lack of determination. His conscience condemns him for not taking revenge, but a natural flaw in Hamlet always takes away from his purpose.
All seven soliloquies are the expression of Hamlet’s deep sadness. These soliloquies tell the reasons for the delay in Hamlet’s revenge taking and arouse sympathy in the heart of audiences for Hamlet. Without These soliloquies, the play ‘Hamlet’ wouldn’t have been so famous in the whole world, as it is today.