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Why Is Hamlet's First Soliloquy

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Throughout Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet demonstrates his wit and coolness under pressure, whether this be in high stress or comical situations. Very rarely does he ever allow the audience -- or other characters -- to see his genuine turmoil. For these reasons, the “Rogue and Peasant Slave” soliloquy at the end of Act 2 Scene 2 really stands out and updates the audience on Hamlet’s suffering. However, this could not be accomplished without Shakespeare’s masterful writing techniques of shifting tone through diction and subject. Through such, the audience can truly take into full consideration Hamlet’s inner suffering, his self hatred, and how he plans to resolve his issues through “vengeance!” (2.2.610).
In the first section of this monologue,
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First, Hamlet speaks generally, noting how “guilty creatures” have been so moved by a play that they “proclaimed their malefactions” (2.2.618,621). Further on, Hamlet specifies that this “guilty creature” is Claudius, and the “malefaction” is the murder of his father (2.2.618,621). To do such, he will have the players, ironically the same ones he just condemned for procuring false emotions, recreate the murder scene as his uncle would have experienced it. In an interesting turn, Hamlet then speaks of how he knows not of whether his father’s ghost be a “demon” or not; the “cunning” tone turns into a more foreboding, questioning air in such a statement (2.2.628). At the finale, however, Hamlet decides that “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” (2.2.633-634). Ironically, this parallel’s Hamlet’s encounter with the actors; his own conscience was caught with their histrionic portrayal, wherein he had to express the pits of his own self loathing. Hamlet hopes to put Claudius through such an emotional cycle as he just experienced, hopefully ending in an expression of guilt and, therefore, “vengeance!”…show more content…
His anger builds, then falls to self hatred, then grows into rage, then descends into self pity, then finally coasts into pragmatic action. Without such shifts, Shakespeare’s language would not be quite as remarkable; the flow of consciousness here really reflects Hamlet’s thought process as he goes through this emotional breakdown. Such a cathartic and expressive release of emotions, which have been bubbling under the surface for so long, creates efficient and effective action, as shown by Hamlet’s scheming done after his outcries of self turmoil. Whether intentionally or not, Shakespeare demonstrates a key element of human nature: hiding emotions can be taxing, but releasing these emotions at an appropriate time lead to greater clarity in mind and
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