Hamlet soliloquies





In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” there are four major soliloquies that reflect the character of Hamlet.

In this paper I will be analyzing and discussing how these four soliloquies reflect changes in Hamlet’s mental state; his

changing attitudes toward life and the other characters in the play, particularly the women; and his reflection on the

task of revenge that has been assigned to him. These four soliloquies are the backbones of the play, and they offer the

audience a glimpse into Hamlet’s mind and thought processes.


In the first soliloquy it is very obvious that Hamlet’s sanity is in question. This is apparent in the first four

lines of this soliloquy. “ O that this too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the

Everlasting had not fixed, His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter, O God! God!” (42) These few lines show that Hamlet is so

depressed that he wishes he could melt away into nothingness or commit suicide. It is also very apparent in this

soliloquy, that Hamlet is beginning to loath his mother for marrying Claudius only one month after King Hamlet’s

death. Hamlet loathes his mother and begins to loath all women, because he believes they are all weak. “Let me not

think on’t! Frailty, They name is women!” (42) Hamlet seems to view Denmark as a metaphorical garden of Eden

which now totally corrupt, this can be seen when Hamlet says “ Tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things

rank and gross in nature”. (42) This soliloquy presents the audience a glimpse into Hamlet’s psyche, he is obviously

enraged at his mother’s marriage, the state of Denmark, and he is still mourning his father’s death.


The second soliloquy is very intriguing and it helps to set up many events that happen during the play.

Hamlet is first wondering how an actor, who has no true emotional connection to the play was performing can seem

to have such deep emotions; while he in reality is feeling unfathomable pain and anguish and he cannot due anything

more than mope around depressed and rant and rave about his father’s death. “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to

Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, He the motive and the cue for passion, That I have.” (134)

Hamlet doubts his own character and obedience to his father in this Soliloquy. He ponders whether or not he is a

coward because he has yet to kill Claudius. “ But I am pigeon livered and lack gall, To make oppression bitter, or ere

this, I should ha’ fattee all the region kites, With this slaves’s offal.” (136) During this soliloquy Hamlet contrives a

plan to entrap Claudius so that hamlet can be totally sure that Claudius is guilty. “ I have heard, That guilty creatures

sitting at a play, Have, by the very running of the scene, Been struck so to the soul that presently, They have

proclaimed their malefactions, For murder, Though it have no tongue, will speak, with the most miraculous organ.”

(136) This soliloquy is very important because it demonstrates Hamlet’s anger at himself and Claudius, and how

Hamlet intends to obtain the final piece of evidence about his father’s death. He needs this evidence so he can be

absolutely sure that Claudius killed King Hamlet.


In the third soliloquy it is obvious that Hamlet is extremely depressed. Hamlet is seriously considering

suicide but he wonders if death is worse then living. “To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there’s the

rub:” (142) Hamlet considers suicide throughout the play but when he gets close to doing it he finds an excuse not to.

He wonders if death is more hellish than life, and asks why would humans go through all the pain and suffering that

life has to offer, if they could end it all by killing themselves. “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The

oppressor’s wrong, The proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despised love, The law’s delay, The insolence of

office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make, With a bare

bodkin?” (142,144) Hamlet’s character has truly changed at this point. He is no longer a