Understanding the Mind of Hamlet with His Soliloquies
The term soliloquy is a literary or dramatic form of discourse, within
which a character talks to himself and reveals his inner thoughts
without addressing a listener.
Hamlet uses soliloquies to express his feelings towards his dead
father and self loathing to the reader of the play but to none of the
characters within it. Hamlet has a complex character and it is
important for the audience to be able to understand Hamlet’s feelings
on the themes of the play without him having to explain them to
another character. Hamlets three soliloquies are guide of how he is
feeling at different points of the play.
In the first line of Hamlet’s first soliloquy he uses the term
‘sullied flesh’ referring to himself, describing him to have impure
flesh in a physical sense because he is made of the same flesh as his
mother. He also wishes death upon himself, ‘flesh, would melt’ this
metaphor of melting dew is an indication of his destructive nature. He
seems to feel like he is beyond repair so like a thaw melting and
being freed into dew he wants to set himself free of his body.
These lines show suicidal tendencies but the next few lines, ‘His
cannon ‘gainst self- slaughter. O God, O God’ show that Hamlet’s
religious views play strongly on his mind. This sentence contains
enjambment which makes it sound poetic and regal, which underlines the
importance God has to Hamlet, it also has iambic pentameter to grab
the attention of the audience.
Hamlet has an obvious objection to Claudius, his uncle and
metaphorically describes his relationship with Gertrude as ‘an
unweeded garden…rank, and gross…’ When talking about their
relationship, Hamlet’s sentences become disjointed and he uses
alliteration with ‘n’, which is a harsh sound showing Hamlets anger
Hamlet compares his Father to Claudius as ‘Hyperion to a satyr’ Using
this imagery of Hyperion, a powerful sun god in contrast to a Satyr, a
half-man creature Hamlet shows how strongly superior he feels his
father was to Claudius. This emotive comparison shows Hamlets obvious
mourning for his dead father, which is playing strongly on his mind as
his mother is showing such little bereavement.
Hamlets self-loathing is also apparent from the second and third
soliloquies showing that this is playing on Hamlets mind through out
the play. In the second soliloquy he describes himself as ‘coward…
pigeon-livered… lacking gall.’ He blames himself for being so cowardly
not being able to seek revenge for his father, in this speech Hamlet
gets angry with...