How Hamlet's Mental State Changes in the Soliloquies in Hamlet by Shakespeare
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