Analysis of Hamlet’s character using soliloquies
ActI, scene 2 lines 128-159
Hamletis presented as a thoughtful and insightful person, full of wisdom.His despise of the acts of his uncle is a major statement for hisfree-mindedness, which however, makes him loath his uncle even more.
ActII, Scene 2 Lines 277-291
Thecharacter portrayed in this soliloquy is that of a straight forwardman. Moreover, by using words to confuse Rosencrantz andGuildenstern, Hamlet presents himself as a witty character, full ofhumor, as well as wisdom.
Act II, Scene 2 Lines 500-560
Onceagain, Hamlet is presented as a thoughtful and sentimental person. Heis also shown to be a hero to himself and to his people. His humorouscharacteristic is also capture in this soliloquy.
ActIII, Scene 1 Lines 54-89
Thissoliloquy is Hamlet’s famous to “be or not to be” speech. Hisphilosophical nature is captured and his logical approach to reality.This soliloquy also portrays him as a realist, as he believes in thepresent, and does not dwell in the past or the future. He alsobelieves that the ultimate fate of man is death, which he mentions inthe speech.
ActIII, Scene 2 Lines 351-362
Here,Hamlet is encouraging and directing the actors how to use words andactions to communicate on stage. He is shown to be a wise, yetauthoritative person. His characters of courage and humor are alsoportrayed in this soliloquy.
ActIII, Scene 3 Lines 73-97
Hamletis an indecisive person, who cannot take chances when they arepresented to him. He hesitates to kill the king, and rather feelsthat he has to give him time to repent. Also, by waiting to have theKing engaging in unreligious acts to kill him, he is seen to bereligious and calculative.
ActIV, Scene 5 Lines 32-65
Thissoliloquy presents Hamlet as a paradoxical character. He exileshimself, claiming not to desire to live in the Elsinore society,because of its evils.Yet, through Ophelia’s songs, the audiencelearns that Hamlet had broken her heart, which is not characteristicof a hero.
ActI, scene 2 lines 128-159
In this particular soliloquy, Shakespeare intended to Hamlet as athoughtful and insightful character. The soliloquy centers aroundHamlet’s inner thoughts, which are driven by the thoughts of hismurdered father and his greedy uncle. Despite the fact that his unclehas married his mother, he refuses to accept him as his new father.This is characteristic of a rebellious individual, and for thatmatter, a sober minded one. Hamlet also wishes that his father wasstill alive, and recognizes him as a great king. This ischaracteristic of a fellow who has a sober view of the order of theday, and knows that his uncle is of no good to the people.
Hamlet has separated himself from the society and self-exiledhimself, to a point that he becomes suicidal. In the soliloquy,Hamlet says “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw andresolve itself into a dew…. His Canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! OGod! God!” (1.2 129-132). This reveals Hamlet as a suicidalcharacter, who wants to take his own life to end his mystery.However, at the same time, he proves himself to be religious, byholding the suicidal thoughts because of his religious belief. Lateron, Hamlet’s character as a secretive person is revealed, where hesays “But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue” (1.2 159).The significance of this first soliloquy in building Hamlet’scharacter is to show him as a thoughtful person who can articulatehis feelings, revealing him to the audience as a depressed fellow.
ActII scene II 277-291
Here, Hamlet’s presents the character of a straight forward man. Hespeaks directly to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are somehowtrying to evade the question of what they are up to in Elsinore.Hamlet says “why, anything, but to th’ purpose. You were sentfor and there is a kind of confession in your looks which yourmodesties have not craft enough to color: I know the good kind andqueen have sent for you” (2.2 272-281). Arguably, Hamlet, in thesewords, is revealed to be a sarcastic character. While he asks the twomen to state the purpose of their presence, he sarcastically callsthe king and queen good. Over the course of the play, the audiencealready knows Hamlet’s stand on the King, and as such, calling himgood is a sarcastic statement.
In this particular soliloquy, Hamlet also shows his funnypersonality. Addressing the Rosencrantz, he says “But let meconjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonance ofour youth…” (2.2 283-285). This use of high-flown language andhumorous assertion presents him as a funny character. This particularscene shows Hamlet’s infuriation and manipulative character. Heconfuses his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with words, so thatthey seem to love beggars more than the king. By doing this,Shakespeare created a clever character who knows how to manipulateothers’ weaknesses for his own interest. Hamlet’s tendency ofusing words to drive a point across reveals him as an artisticfellow, who can be loved and hated at almost equal measures.
ActII, Scene 2 Lines 500-560
In this scene, Hamlet is presented as a thoughtful and sentimentalcharacter, as well as a hero for himself and for the people. Whileaddressing Polonius, he says, “use them after your own honor anddignity the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty”(2.2 531-533). He is a person who realizes that the dignity of theDanish people is paramount, regardless of the fact that their leaderhas taken away his own dignity. Hamlet’s funny character is alsoportrayed in this soliloquy. He makes a humorous oath by saying“God’s bodkin, man, much better” (2.2 529). God’s bodkinrefers to Jesus Christ. On the same note, Hamlet is a religiousindividual, as he relates many things to his religion. All over theplay, he makes reference to God while explaining his thoughts. He isone of the most religious characters in this play.
Perhaps due to his tribulations, Hamlet is a sorrowful character, whotends to dwell in self-misery. Aster Rosencrantz and Guildensternhave left, he says to himself “Now I am alone. O, what a rogue andpeasant slave am I? Is it not monstrous that this player here, but ina fiction, in a dream of passion, could force his soul so to his ownconceit” (2.2 549-553). He feels that his own persona is sinkinghis soul, and that his heart is heavy from the loath he has for hisuncle. While he believes that every countryman has the right todignity, he is somehow confused of his own life, and does not knowwhether to blame himself or the rotting social fabric of his country.This analysis of Hamlet’s personality is a revelation of anenduring character, whose perception of his situation neverthelessinfluences his outward temperate.
Act III, Scene 1 Lines 54-89
This soliloquy is Hamlet’s famous to be or not to be speech. Inthis speech, Hamlet reveals himself as a philosophical person whouses logic to explain the nature of events. He begins this soliloquyby asking “to be or not to be, that is the question” (3.1 56).His philosophical standpoint is centered around existentialism.According to this principle, the past and the future are intangible,and humans have no control over them. As such, Hamlet is a person whodoes not care a lot about what these times mean, instead, focuses onthe present. In this soliloquy, Hamlet is revealed as a person who isstraightforward with the nature of life, that people are born, theylive and they die. He is also shown to be a person who questions thecontrol of man over fate. He does this by referring to the ultimatefate, death, by saying “and by opposing end them/ to die, to sleep-no more- and by a sleep to say we end the heat-ache and the thousandnatural shocks the flesh is heir to” (3.1 60-63). This lineunderlines the dilemma that entangles his life, hence, making him aparticularly delusional character.
In this soliloquy, Hamlet makes a strong reference to death. Heponders “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer…the slingsand arrows of outrageous fortune…or to take arms up against sea oftroubles” (3.1 57-60). He also asks himself about the nature ofdeath, whether it is just a sleep or something else. By this, theaudience perceive Hamlet to be an internally disturbed character, whofinds death to be the only solution to ending his troubles, and thatof his enemies. However, despite the indecisive character that Hamletportrays throughout the soliloquy, he proves himself to sober mindedwhen he finally decided that death is not the best solution. He says“no traveler returned-puzzles the will…and makes us rather bearthose ills we have” (3.1 80-81). This is in realization of the factthat death would not be the best way to ending troubles.
Act III, Scene 2 Lines 351-362
In this, the wise and authoritative nature of Hamlet comes into play.He is asking the actors to play out the lines just as he hadstructured them, and not to do anything any differently. He tells theactors “speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,tippingly on the tongue But if you mouth it, as many of your playersdo, I had as life the town-crier spoke my lines” (3.2 351). Here,he is asking the actors not to exaggerate the lines, because if heneeded them to be so, he would have asked a broadcaster to read them.This lines reveal the humorous side of Hamlet, which Shakespearecreated to bring some relief to his misery.
In this soliloquy, Hamlet is presented as a courageous character. Heurges the actors to be guided by the words that they utter, and notto fear anything else. According to him, theatre is a place ofheroes, those who are ready to use the acts to speak out the truth.To encourage the actors, he says “Be not too tame neither, but letyour own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, theword to the action with this special o’erstep…” (3.2 357).Aware that some of the actors may fear to act as he desires them todo, he uses his courageous wisdom to motivate them.
ActIII, Scene 3 Lines 73-97
Thissoliloquy portrays Hamlet as an indecisive character who is quiteincapable if deliberate action. He is about to kill, but feels likehe has to give his enemy (the king) a chance to repent his sins. Hesays “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying: And now I’ll doit. And so he goes to heaven” (3.3 73-74). However, he remembersthat the man he is about to kill is the one who killed his father,and he would not want to be likened to him. Being a religious person,he feels that he should allow him to pray, and may be, in theprocess, repent his sins. In this scene, when he is about to act, heremains puzzled and remorseful, but feels that he better kills himwhen he is engaged in some other act, not prayers. He says “Up,sword and know thou a horrid hent: When he is drunk asleep, or inhis rage, or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed…or some act thathas no relish of salvation in’t” (3.3 88-92). This, moreover,reveals a religious and upright character that Hamlet is.
ActIV, Scene 5 Lines 32-65
Inthis scene, the audience learn of the paradox of Hamlet’s.character. He has exiled himself from Elsinore, not wanting to livein the society. His actions are rather selfish, as demonstrated inOphelia’s song. She feels that he rejected him, and that he is notresponsible for the child that he gave her. His relationship withOphelia shows that he is natural in his circumstances, and that hefosters disappointment and hope at the same time. Ophelia says toGertrude “How should I your true love know from another one? By hiscockle hat and staff, and sandal shoon” (4.5 23-26). These arewords of a bitter woman, whose sadness is caused by the estrangedrelationship with Hamlet. By this, it is revealed that despite theheroic character that Hamlet is, there are some weak points in hispersonality.
Puchner, Martin. “The Norton Anthology of Western Literature, 9thEdition, Vol 1.” WW Norton & Company Incorporated, 2014. Print.