Stylistic Analysis: Hamlet Soliloquy

7 July 2016

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is full of misdirection and mysterious happenings that are only explained to the audience through various soliloquies and hidden actions. Hamlet’s soliloquy in act 3, scene 2, is crucial for the audience to understand the mental struggle and inconsistent characteristics of the play’s eponymous protagonist. Hamlet incorporates dark, sinister-like images, to portray his future course of action towards his mother, Gertrude. Hamlet’s soliloquy is presented in a time of night that allows him to be open with the audience.

For Hamlet, the dark serves as a shield that protects him from feeling the moral burdens of his future plans towards his mother. Hamlet describes the night as a time “when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out” (iii. ii. 2). This ominous description of the setting gives Hamlet comfort in knowing that evil regularly occurs. Therefore, his actions towards his mother would not seem as wicked because they are part of the normal happenings of the night. Hamlet uses the soliloquy to depict how he is finally going to avenge his father. He uses ruthless tone to describe “such bitter business of the day” (iii. ii. 4).

This tone is rarely used from Hamlet prior to this soliloquy. The soliloquy serves as a major turning point for Hamlet. Hamlet now has evidence for Claudius’s involvement in Hamlet’s father’s murder. Therefore, he now cannot use the excuse of a lack of proof for his inaction. Hamlet notifies the audience that he is planning “to be cruel” towards his mother without appearing strange and unnatural (iii. ii. 8). Hamlet’s normally wavering and cowardly nature is buried by this seemingly merciless tone. Hamlet is aware of his ever changing view towards his mother. He understands that he has to struggle in order to feel true resentment.

Hamlet demonstrates this great effort when he says, “O heart, lost not thy nature, let not ever” (iii. ii. 6). Strangely enough, Hamlet’s affection strengthens as the soliloquy progresses. Hamlet begins to be more empathetic towards his mother. Deep in his heart, Hamlet knows that he loves his mother regardless of what his actions depict. Hamlet says that his “tongue and soul in this be hypocrites” (iii. ii. 10). Hamlet’s words will contradict his love for his mother as he will speak spitefully. Hamlet finishes the soliloquy with an unusual outburst proclaiming that he will “give them seals never, my soul, consent” (iii.ii. 12).

This outburst outlines his indecisive yet ironically impulsive character. Towards the end of the soliloquy, Hamlet’s tone towards his mother becomes cruel, yet full of empathy and love. Hamlet’s soliloquy serves a major role in notifying the audience about Hamlet’s inner thoughts. Additionally, the dark setting allows these thoughts to be honest and candid. Hamlet is both resentful and affectionate towards his mother. Because of these contrasting emotions, Hamlet tends to be act extremely indecisive and uncertain. This soliloquy portrays Hamlet’s great suffering due to his fragile and perplexed mental state.

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