Both soliloquies, although different to some extent from each other, has various commonalities i. e. obvious metaphorical attributes, meditative mood, and arguments about Hamlet’s procrastination. Hamlet’s both soliloquies reveal something about his paradoxical nature. Shakespeare has effectively utilized these soliloquies to provide reasons for Hamlet’s procrastination to take revenge in general and irresolute nature in particular. But wider scheme of the play manifests that Shakespeare explores the psychological intricacies of human mind and nature.
These soliloquies are in complete contrast to posed and pretentious dialogues that he utters in the court. In the first soliloquy he wishes to be dead whereas reflects over the thought of suicide in the second soliloquy. The first soliloquy provides an insight into Hamlet’s psyche. He is a man of morals and his moral idealism receives a shock when his mother remarries Claudius after his father’s death. In an incoherent torrent of abhorrence, fury, distress, and pathos, he express the wish that the excessively solid flesh of his body should melt and dissolve in to a liquid so that its grossness may disappear.
Or, alternatively he wishes that God had not declared that suicide would be regarded as an offence against His laws; “Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God! O God! (I, ii, 131-132) In other words, Hamlet wants either that death should come to him of its own accord or that he should kill himself without being regarded as a sinner. This line also shows that he is a man of a reflective and analytical nature and posses a highly imaginative and poetical temperament, possessing unusual powers of expression. We also feel that Hamlet has a morbid streak in his nature.
He is feeling completely disgusted with the world and finds all its activities to be “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” (I, ii, 133) Second soliloquy shows him weary-hearted and sick of life, obviously because he has yet done nothing in the direction of revenge. This soliloquy confirms our impression of Hamlet as a speculative man with an irresolute mind and an incapacity for any premeditated action of a momentous nature. He contemplates the extreme step of committing suicide as an escape from the onerous responsibility which has been imposed upon him and which he in unable to discharge.
In these lines Hamlet asks himself whether he should kill himself or he should continue to live and endure the sorrows of life. The question before him is whether it would be nobler for him to undergo the mental torture caused by the blows and buffetings administered to him by an arbitrary fate, or it would be nobler to fight against the overwhelming force of life’s misfortunes and thus try to put an end to those misfortunes “or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them. ” (II, i, 59-60) These lines strengthen the thought that Hamlet is by temperament inward-looking and introspective.
He is constantly analyzing himself and delving into his own nature to seek an explanation for this or for that, and giving vent to his deepest thoughts in soliloquies. His soliloquies show more than anything else the basic contradiction in him between his desire to execute revenge and his incapacity to do so. The thought in these lines is one which makes a great appeal to every thinking human individual. Life is really full of misfortunes and calamities. Like Hamlet concludes the first soliloquy by making his mind up to do nothing for the time being.
The second soliloquy starts with the same thought of as he again starts contemplating to do or not to do. These soliloquies have woven into the play complex threads of contrast of character and ideas on the efficacy and value of revenge to elevate it much above the common plays of the Revenge genre.
Bradley, A. C. (2007). A. C. Bradley on Shakespeare’s tragedies: a concise edition and Reassessment. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, A. W. Verity (ed). ( 1939). Hamlet. Cambridge : University Press. Muir, Kenneth. (1963). Hamlet. Woodbury, N. Y. , Barron’s Educational Series.