Hamlet’s Soliloquies Xan Hamlet’s Soliloquies Mankind has told stories throughout the generations, fascinating and enthralling one another with tales of woe, humour and passion. The power of a story has always lain primarily within our desire to observe characters that we can relate to, believe in and understand. That is perhaps the area in which Shakespeare’s works have always excelled, as he masterfully utilizes numerous devices to draw the audience into his character’s minds. The most prominent example of this is his frequent use of soliloquies throughout what is possible his greatest work, Hamlet. This play so effectively blends soliloquies into it’s dialogue that the audience is treated to an in depth study of it’s tragic hero.
Through this literary device, Hamlet unveils to us the intricacies of his heart and soul, most specifically his anger, selfishness and gullibility. Almost immediately after Hamlet’s character is introduced, he begins to entrance the audience with his inner turmoil. During a soliloquy in Act I, soon after his mother and Claudius leave him to his own private musings, he reveals that his is being silently torn apart with a hidden rage. He is secretly suffering with his anger over his father’s recent death and his mother’s swift re-marriage to his uncle, Claudius. As he unloads this heavy burden of rage, he allows us to understand his plight, as well as his aggressive nature. He also begins to make clear his difficulty to express his problems with others, keeping them to himself instead, burning inside with his own fruitless torment.
He also proves that he contemplates events in the greatest of detail, allowing the aggression to further build within him. Soon after, Hamlet further enforces these character traits. Alone once again, he now speaks to himself in the night, away from the castle. The Ghost of his father has just left him, shocking and horrifying him with accusations that Claudius was the murderer. Hamlet is now consumed even more entirely by his anger at Claudius and swears that he will right this wrong. He is so fixed on the betrayal and his own rage that he does not contemplate his actions, or the abnormal and unsettling circumstances in which this information was bestowed upon him.
He merely assumes it is his noble quest for truth and justice, giving no pause to consider the morality of his plan. His blind faith in the words of a ghostly apparition serves to reveal his gullible character as well as his self-righteous nature. He has been manipulated and has not the wit to see it. The final, and indeed most telling soliloquy in Hamlet occurs in a lonely and deserted area of the castle. Despite his resolve to bring justice upon Claudius for his wicked deeds, Hamlet has yet to have accomplished anything.
His true character is at last revealed as he contemplates suicide over dealing with his situation. He is a coward, as he proves through his pitiful willingness to admit defeat in favour of focusing on what he must do. He speaks a great deal about his own hardships as well, blind to his selfishness. He expresses many times, in exaggerated language, the difficulty of his life, effectively wallowing in his own self pity at a time when decision and action are needed. Prince Hamlet- noble hero on a righteous quest, or a gullible, angry and selfish fraud? Such is the power of the soliloquy, to dissect and uncover the true nature of a character, even one so deceptive and complex as Hamlet.
This is a play where it is not plot, but numerous introspective gazes into the minds of the characters that has kept audiences enthralled for generations.