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Hamlet is a play by William Shakespeare. It revolves around a young man Hamlet who is in agony over his father’s death. He was a king and when he died, Hamlet’s uncle married his mother and took over the monarchy. Hamlet’s father in appearance of a ghost emerged and informed Hamlet about his uncle, who was responsible of his father’s death. Hamlet is also angered by the fact that his mother did not take long enough time to mourn her husband’s death and thus he contemplated on the possible solution to his problem. These thoughts bring him a lot of anxiety. The play makes the use of soliloquy to bring the audience closer to the thoughts of the characters on the scene. With a help of soliloquy the feelings and the general atmosphere in the play becomes clear to the audience (Bate et al. n.pag.).
One of the famous soliloquies is found in act III, scene I of the play. The opening line in the soliloquy “To be or not to be” is an indication of Hamlet’s contemplation on whether to continue living or take his own life instead; the soliloquy consists of a series of agonizing thoughts. It has been analyzed by different analysts and has sparked some disagreements in various content issues and understanding of the real meaning. There are some disagreements concerning the theme of the soliloquy; is it about death, suicide, endurance, or action? It is a bit difficult to understand the soliloquy without firstly putting it in the actual context. Hamlet is not sure whether he should go on and avenge his father’s death by killing the uncle who is supposedly responsible for the death or to endure the pain and suffering and just let it go. He is also contemplating about his further actions; Hamlet is hesitating to commit suicide and just escape all the turmoil that he is undergoing. He, however, considers an option of committing suicide but it is against the Bible and he is very uncertain in the afterlife (Shakespeare act III, scene I).
The feeling of desperation, and the urge on giving up, and opt for death is revealed in act III, “To die to sleep-/No more-and by sleep we say we end/ the heart ache and the thousand natural shocks/ That flash s a heir to-‘tis is a consummation devoutly to be wished” (Shakespeare 68-71). However, Hamlet is unsure what death can bring with its horrible dreams and terror and thus he opts to stop. He understands that the revenge is evil and thus he abolishes the plan. He thinks logically about why others do not escape to death when faced with problems and wonders why people endure all the pain and suffer when the solution can be reached by a mere knife: “[w]hen he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin?” Hamlet then understands the fact that the uncertainty of the afterlife makes people endure all the life difficulties. His coward nature is also revealed as he cannot fight with his emotions and he contemplates an escape plan to avoid the conflict. He knew the truth about the death of his father but had done nothing about it (Shakespeare act III, scene I).
The feeling of exhaustion and desire for relaxation from the turmoil is highlighted in the soliloquy. The metaphor that compares the death and sleep is present here; Hamlet thinks of them as of means to end suffering, but at the same time he is afraid of his afterlife and then turns down those thoughts.
Hamlet was feeling neglected and ignored; he dreaded of respect and attention that is extended to the dead and that was perhaps one of the reasons of why he contemplated death to be an alternative escape from his problems, “Must give us pause: there's the respect”. Another part of the soliloquy reveals the feelings of Helmet and tells that the sufferings can be easily ended by a knife. He mentioned scorning in life, despised love and the oppression from a proud man, perhaps referring to his uncle who killed his father and married his mother almost immediately (Shakespeare 70-76).
Hamlet was also feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the events that happened, “who would fardel bear /To grunt and sweat under a weary life”. Such a situation prompted him to look for solutions. Desperation did not leave him and suicide seemed the only option, however, the mystery of the unknown prevented him from committing suicide and instead he decided to look for another solution. Hamlet feels that a too long contemplation of an action makes men coward and thus a new action needs to be taken (Hamlet soliloquy essay n.pag.).
Towards the end of soliloquy, the urgency for action was captured, as Hamlet felt agitated and could not take it longer, “… soft you now!” The metaphor is used here to compare the situation with an ocean which at times becomes unstable and uncontrollable and takes its desired course passing through any obstacle that stands on its way. At the end, Hamlet said a prayer for Ophelia, which indicated calmness after making the decision to avenge the father’s death (Hamlet's Soliloquy: To be, or not to be: that is the question n.pag.).
The speech of Hamlet depicts the elusive character of the prince in several ways. The death of Claudius should have affected Ophelia so much that she would not have made swift decision of marrying his brother almost immediately. However, Ophelia did not do any attempt to investigate the details of the death. The turmoil of Hamlet over the death cannot be compared with hers.