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Hamlet's Soliloquy Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

When analyzing Shakespeare's Hamlet through the deconstructionist lens various elements of the play come into sharper focus. Hamlet's beliefs about himself and his crisis over indecision are expounded upon by the binary oppositions created in his soliloquies.
Hamlet’s first soliloquy comes in act one scene two, as Hamlet reflects on the current state of events. The chief focus of this soliloquy is essentially the rottenness of the king, queen and the world in general. In this passage the reader is introduced to Hamlet pseudo-obsession with death and suicide, which later will become a chief point of indecision. In this particular speech, however, Hamlet is fairly confident. He wishes that his “too too sullied flesh would melt” (Shakespeare 1.2.129), and laments that God has “fixed / his canon against self slaughter” (1.2.131-2). These two lines set up the fundamental dichotomy of indecision in Hamlet, which is mostly action or inaction, but can be expressed in terms of suicide or continuing life. It is important to note that there is little indecision in this particular passage, and though this makes it somewhat more difficult to deconstruct, it provides a point of comparison for Hamlets eventual madness. Here he clearly categorically rejects the idea of suicide as against god’s law, and is thereby free from the indecision seen later in the play. The rest of the passage is essentially a platform for Hamlet to air his grievances, and thus the deconstructionist lens for this soliloquy can be best applied to Hamlet’s beliefs about other characters rather than his own internal conflicts. Hamlet sets up a number of the oppositions directly by comparing his father to his uncle. He first uses the comparison of “Hyperion to a Satyr” (1.2.141) to describe his father’s relation to his uncle, and both the opposition and the favored side are fairly clear in this account. Hamlet also manages to both degrade himself and his uncle in another comparison, saying his uncle was “no more like my father / Than I to Hercules” (1.2.152-3). Though such strong comparisons to romanticized and mythical figures could are partially simple hyperbole, they also underscore some of the insecurity in Hamlet’s character. The value in recognizing this comes as Hamlet descends into his madness, whether real or imaginary, where the reader can see that, even before Hamlet deliberately decides to appear to be “mad” he has certain issues and insecurities with his own feelings. Even more significantly, this passage begins to elaborate on Hamlet’s relationship with his mother. Gertrude represents an interesting dilemma for the deconstructionist critic, as she does not create or involve herself in many conflicts or oppositions. She manages to significantly affect the plot and the subtext of the play while seeming almost insignificant as a character at first glance through the deconstructionist lens. She does not overtly affect events, and often plays the victim of circumstance. This very...

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