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Investigating The Function Of The Main Soliloquies In Shakespeare's Hamlet

2476 words - 10 pages

Investigating the Function of the Main Soliloquies in Shakespeare's Hamlet

“Hamlet” is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in around 1601
when Queen Elizabeth the first was on the throne. In the play we see
the royal court of Denmark becoming more and more corrupt with ghosts,
murder, madness and incest, culminating in the highest death toll in
any of Shakespeare’s plays. The lead character of Hamlet is an
intellectual whose aim in the play is to avenge his father’s death by
killing his uncle, the king. However his tendency to think too much
and inability to carry out his actions gets in the way of him bringing
the king to justice, and this hesitancy is a major recurring theme in
the play. At the time of Hamlet first being performed, the royal
family of England would have been similar to the celebrities of today,
and the public of the time would have loved any scandals or gossip
involving royalty. This made Hamlet very popular with the audience
watching the plays, and even though this particular royal family was
that of Denmark, the public would have loved to imagine that the same
sort of scandal and excitement could happen amongst the royalty of
this country.

This Essay will be focusing on Hamlet’s soliloquies, which are a main
feature of the play. A soliloquy is a section of dialogue that is
spoken by an actor that is alone on the stage. This not only reveals
the characters thoughts and feelings and keeps the audience involved,
it also moves the plot on and re-caps on what has happened.
Soliloquies also add to the dramatic impact of Hamlet’s character, and
are essential to the plot of the play.

The first of Hamlet’s soliloquies is placed early in the play, and
contributes towards explaining the plot. Hamlet’s father has suddenly
died, his mother has then re-married in a matter of months to her
brother in law, and Hamlet is in despair about the situation. To top
it all off there are rumours that a ghostly vision is appearing
nightly on the castle battlements. Leading up to his first soliloquy,
hamlets mother is trying to tell Hamlet to stop grieving for his
father. This only angers Hamlet further, until he explains his
feelings of anger and despair to the audience in his soliloquy.

The soliloquy starts by using imagery to describe Hamlet’s feelings
towards the situation. Language such as “flat and unprofitable” is
used when describing Hamlet’s world, telling the audience that he
feels hopeless and in despair. The imagery of “an unweeded garden”
conjures images of a nasty, messy situation in the royal court, and
when he mentions “things rank and gross in nature” the audience would
start to realise that the court is corrupt in Hamlet’s eyes.

It becomes clear in the middle of the soliloquy that Hamlet blames
this corrupt situation on the hasty marriage of his mother...

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