Shakespeare's Depiction of Hamlet's State of Mind in the Soliloquies
In answering this question I understand Hamlet's state of mind to be
his true moods thoughts and feelings. I understand the context to mean
what is happening at that point in the play. I will consider how a
contemporary audience might react to Hamlets honest thoughts. I will
also examine the language Shakespeare uses for Hamlet to portray his
emotions of the particular moment.
I have chosen to write individually about each of the six soliloquies,
for the reason that I am unable to generalize the answers on such
complex writings. I will briefly discuss what I believe his state of
mind is in order to match his use of language with his emotions.
In the first soliloquy the context is that he has discovered his
mother's betrayal to his dead father. He is intensely depressed,
suicidal and morbid. "O, that this too too solid flesh would melt"
this is vivid imagery showing he wants to fade away. He is very
agitated, distressed, and his anger is mixed with disgust and grief.
"O, God! A beast, that wants discourse of reason, would have mourn'd
To him life has no meaning. "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
seems to me all the uses of this world!" He is particularly upset by
the short time elapsing between the death of his father and marriage
of his mother and uncle.
The language he uses reveals fixation with the time factor being such
a painful part of his grief. He constantly repeats about the lack of
time between the death and marriage. "But two months dead (140)" "yet
within a month (147)" "A little month (149)" "most wicked speed (158)"
"such dexterity (159)"
The way the language is disjointed and jumps around between thoughts
would be in character with new grief. He can't think straight whilst
grieving. His thoughts are constantly interrupted by the time issue
"My father's brother, but no more like my father than I to Hercules:
within a month (155)"
He uses a metaphor to demonstrate the corruption in Denmark. " 'tis an
unweeded garden that grows to seed;"
I believe the audiences reaction to be empathetic towards his
feelings. They would be fascinated by the wrongful deeds spoken of
"incestuous sheets!" it ends with a cliffhanger "for I must hold my
In the second soliloquy the context is that he now presumes his
father's death to be a murder committed by his uncle Claudius, so his
state of mind shows his hopelessness. "And can say nothing; no, not
for a king (574)." His lack of self worth. "I am pigeon-liver'd and
lack gall (583)" he puts himself down "what an ass I am (589)"
He is revealing he can't put any action in revenging his father's
death but can only talk about it. "Prompted to my revenge by heaven
and hell, must like a whore, unpack my words (591)"