Act 1 Scene 2: Hamlet’s soliloquy allows him to share his inner thoughts with the audience. This soliloquy covers many topics: Hamlet’s father’s death and his mother’s reaction to it, his mother remarriage with his uncle, and Hamlet’s anger at the way his life has changed in such a short time. Shakespeare uses rich imagery in portraying Hamlet’s inner turmoil.
Shakespeare opens Hamlet’s soliloquy in an instant of ambiguity. Hamlet’s flesh was described by the word’sullied, which can mean spoiled or dirtied. This is possible because of the incestuous relationships between his mother, uncle, and Hamlet. Two other interpretations of Shakespeare’s words are equally relevant. The first is’sallied’ meaning ‘attacked/assailed’. This refers to Hamlet’s perception that he is being victim in these particular circumstances. This would match Hamlet’s self-pity and moroseness in the soliloquy. The word could have also been referred to as’solid’. This is consistent to the changing state in the next three lines (‘thaw’,’resolve’ and ‘dew’). It is possible that Shakespeare intended to make this word unclear in order for it to be used in a variety of meanings. These lines also mark the first time that imagery is used in this soliloquy. This elaborate way of wishing for his death is more measured than a violent or passionate death wish. Hamlet’s inability to do any harm to himself by changing from liquid to solid states is natural. Hamlet is passive in this statement. This statement reveals much about Hamlet’s current mental state: he’s not suicidal and merely moody.
These lines further illustrate his rational yet sad inner workings. If suicide wasn’t a serious sin or illegal, he wouldn’t contemplate it. It is clear that he perceives his situation. This may not be a problem, but a way to excuse his inaction. This dramatizes the soliloquy, as he apostrophizes God in his desperate state. Hamlet is in depression and feels weary. ‘).
Shakespeare uses another piece of imagery. He refers to the current state as a ‘untended garden…things gross and unclean in nature possess it merely. Hamlet has found himself in a sad situation because he allowed a beautiful garden to fall apart. This is a sign that Hamlet is suffering from the effects of the passage of time and not human activity. Shakespeare uses careful imagery to demonstrate that Hamlet is not yet suspicious of anyone. Hamlet also feels self-deprecation. Hamlet blames his inaction for not being more involved with the kingdom’s affairs. Hamlet may be using imagery to describe his mental state. Hamlet’s mental state has changed from a clear mind and clear purpose to life. This could be a sign of his mental decline.
Hamlet then looks at his father’s passing as a natural consequence of thinking about the root cause of his country’s (and mind’s) problems. It should be like this! Both the statements That it should come up to this!’ as well as ‘-nay. Shakespeare then uses a third image in his Hamlet comparison of Claudius, Hamlet’s dead King’s father to Hamlet’s uncle and incumbent monarch. Hamlet is Hyperion’s father if Claudius was a satyr. Hyperion was a Greek god god of sunlight. This god is not well-known. Half-man, half beast, a satyr could not be more distinct in knowledge and power, which is why it is such a striking contrast. This allows Hamlet to express his opinion on his uncle and his father for the first-time. It also shows Hamlet’s high level of education, as he is well-versed Greek mythology. Hamlet adds to his father’s praises with another grand statement, possibly induced by the earlier comparison to a powerful Greek god: “He might…too roughly.”
These lines are exaggerated for theatrical effect as well as to show how Hamlet’s mother and her father loved each other. Hamlet says that his father loved his mother and his mother fed him, making him hungrier than ever. This almost mutual imagery between mother and father makes it very obvious how much they love each other and makes the past month seem even more incredible. Hamlet is so disgusted at this thought, he even wants ‘to consider’ it. Hamlet’s confused mind is illustrated by this disjointed sentence.
Now there is a tonal switch. Hamlet no longer laments his father’s passing and instead rages over his mother’s inflexibility. Hamlet starts by saying, “Frailty, Thy Name is Woman.” Hamlet compares his mother to all other women. This statement is misogynistic and may be an expression of Hamlet’s fragility or a betrayal of his true feelings. Hamlet demonstrates how quick the Queen was in her decision to remarry. He draws on an example that all of his audience can relate too: the shoes she wore to the funeral of her husband hadn’t worn out since she remarried. Rich imagery follows. The queen is first likened with Niobe, an ancient Greek mortal who grieved for her children and then turned to stone. Hamlet then says, ironically, that ‘a beast who wants discourse of reason will have mourn’d more. The audience will find these two images a charming juxtaposition.
Hamlet then, with his third reference Greek mythology, gives us more information about him and his opinions on his uncle. Shakespeare depicts Hamlet as a flawed, flawed hero by drawing out the differences between Hamlet and Hercules. Hamlet’s self-deprecation helps to enhance the audience’s understanding of his personality. Hamlet repeats the speed at which his mother remarried. Then he uses another hyperbole to describe the actions of his mother, this time saying that the salt she had gotten from crying hadn’t left her eyes when she remarried. Shakespeare adds this to his play as an additional literary flourish. He wants Hamlet to be outraged by such a bold move. Hamlet now refers to the speed of the marriage, six times. This soliloquy is focused on time. Hamlet refers to his uncle and mother with some vehemence about the speed of their decisions. But when he speaks of his father, he doesn’t use such speak. Hamlet uses the term “the past” to refer to Hamlet’s father’s life. Hyperion is referred to as Hercules. The audience’s impression of his dad is one of immense strength and nobility.
Hamlet says that he cannot speak of it in public and must keep his mouth shut. It is pertinent to this soliloquy that Hamlet distinguishes between his private and public personality. These soliloquies, despite the fact that both personalities are similar to each other in many ways, are Hamlet’s only chance to reveal his thoughts.
This soliloquy has three main purposes. It informs its audience about past events. It gives an insight into Hamlet’s father’s personality and shows Hamlet’s mother being in love with him. It also gives the audience a glimpse of Hamlet’s thoughts on these subjects. The audience gets a good idea of Hamlet’s personality because this is Hamlet’s first soliloquy. Shakespeare’s use metaphors increases Hamlet’s understanding. They also give depth and originality a well-known emotion.
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