Date of publication: 2017-07-08 19:50
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As with many elements of Hamlet , much of the interpretation lies in the eye of the beholder and the choices made in the production. If Hamlet is portrayed as truly descending into madness, then one can take much of this soliloquy at face value. Hamlet really is depressed and thinking about killing himself as a means to end his sea of troubles. Going by this interpretation, Hamlet is further waxing depressed with the reasoning that he's a coward for not killing either Claudius or himself. Surely, given Hamlet's first soliloquy in Act I, sc. ii ( O, that this too too solid flesh would melt ), Hamlet in his grief has mused upon the prospect of suicide.
In any case, this philosophical soliloquy builds on a recurrent theme throughout the play 656 the afterlife. The afterlife permeates Hamlet , whether it's the ghost's appearance, Hamlet's equivocation over whether to kill Claudius while he prays, or the controversy over Ophelia's burial rites at the graveyard. If death were oblivion, it might be desirable, in Hamlet's mind the fear that it might not be is what makes it frightening to him. Of course, there is only one way to be certain, and the decision is irrevocable.
In what is arguably Shakespeare's most recognizable soliloquy, Hamlet attempts to reason out whether the unknown beyond of death is any easier to bear than life. The underlying theme remains Hamlet's inaction and his frustration at his own weaknesses. Here, however, Hamlet seems less introspective about his failure to kill Claudius than perhaps his failure to take his own life. This is also a speech that explores the idea of consequence.
From our very first encounter with Hamlet, he is consumed by grief and obsessed by death. Although he is dressed in black to signify his mourning, his emotions run deeper than his appearance or words can convey.
He's convinced of the spirit's legitimacy soon enough, but his initial skepticism introduces the first note of doubt in the play, one that will haunt his friend Hamlet for several acts.
65) Compare and contrast the characters of Hamlet and Fortinbras. Is Fortinbras a valuable character in his own right or does he serve only to highlight aspects of Hamlet's personality?
Horatio is Hamlet's closest friend, and he's the only one who really seems to deserve the title. Unlike Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (also Hamlet's old chums), Horatio's loyalty and common sense are rock-steady throughout the play.
Revenge, ambition, lust and conspiracy return to the heads of those that conjured them in Hamlet, completely annihilating two families--the innocent with the guilty. Check out my blog on the play (includes current link to PBS Great Performance video of production of play): http:///t5bmb
Perhaps Hamlet’s new-found confidence in fate is little more than a form of self-justification a way to rationally and morally distance himself from the murder he is about to commit.
It is the complexity of Hamlet’s characterization that has made him so enduring. Today, it is difficult to appreciate how revolutionary Shakespeare’s approach to Hamlet was because his contemporaries were still penning two-dimensional characters. Hamlet’s psychological subtlety emerged in a time before the concept of psychology had been invented – a truly remarkable feat.
There is another general way in which we could interpret this speech, however. If the choice is made instead to play Hamlet's madness as anything less than genuine, then there could be an entirely different element at work here. Keep in mind that the scene does not open with Hamlet's entrance it begins with the plot of Claudius and Polonius to spy upon Hamlet's interaction with Ophelia. Claudius even says we have closely sent for Hamlet hither. As a result, Hamlet should clearly be expecting to meet someone when he enters the scene. Perhaps he enters lost in thought perhaps he enters with suspicion. However, if Hamlet enters the scene suspecting that he is being watched, it casts the entire scene in a different light.