SOLILOQUY IN HAMLET
Soliloquy is a very powerful dramatic device. It is used to reveal the inner working of character's mind. Through this device the dramatist communicates to the audience the secret thought of a character. Thus a soliloquy is a means of character revelation. It contributes to the development of the plot.
There are a number of soliloquies in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Most of them belong to the hero and a few to the villain of the play. In the course of the play Hamlet has seven long soliloquies.
The first soliloquy of Hamlet occurs before he has seen the Ghost. Here the young Hamlet reveals the grief that has been crunching his mind. He thinks of his suicide to get rid of this grief. He feels disillusioned with this world. This soliloquy shows the meditative nature of Hamlet:
'How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!'
The second significant soliloquy of Hamlet occurs in Act - I, Scene - V. It comes just after the Ghost leaves him. Hamlet, the protagonist of the play, has been stunned by the revelation of the Ghost. His speech makes us think that he will soon carry out the command of the Ghost. This soliloquy shows Hamlet's resolution to avenge his father's murder:
' So, uncle , there you are. Now to my word.
It is 'Adieu, adieu, remember me'
I have sworn't.'
The third soliloquy occurs in Act-II, Scene - II. Here Hamlet abuses himself for his failure to execute his revenge. He expresses his anger against his uncle. It seems that this soliloquy reveals his incapacity for any kind of vigorous action. Here he is only a philosopher. He is not a man of action:
'Must like a whore unpacked my heart with words,
And falls a - cursing like a very drab,
A scullion! Fie upon't! Foh!
About, my brains.'
The fourth important soliloquy of Hamlet occurs in Act-III, Scene-I. It is the most famous, celebrated and philosophical soliloquy. Here we have a mental debate. Here Hamlet finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. He again thinks of his suicide. This soliloquy reveals Hamlet's speculative temperament. It shows his generalising habit of thought. It has a universal appeal. Its purpose is to show the Hamlet's delay in carrying out his purpose. Here one can find his dilemma:
'To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether' tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.'
The fifth soliloquy occurs in Act- III, Scene- II. It occurs when Hamlet is about to go to his mother's chamber. He is in hot mood. In this mood he could even kill his mother, but he would nit like to follow Nero's example. He, therefore, decides to speak daggers to his mother, but use none. One can see here the deep resentment against his mother. He thinks:
'Let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom;
Let me be cruel, not unnatural
I will speak daggers, but use none.'
Next important soliloquy occurs in Act- III, Scene- III. Hamlet gets an excellent opportunity to take revenge. But he does not kill his uncle. He thinks that his uncle would go to heaven because he is at prayers. He decides to wait for another opportunity. Obviously Hamlet is delaying. His reasoning is impractical. Here his tendency to procrastination is again emphasised:
'Tis heaven with him. And am I then reveng'd
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season'd for his passage?
Hamlet's last soliloquy occurs in Act- IV, Scene- IV. It is again full of self-reproach:
' How all occasions do inform against me
And spur my dull revenge!'
Thus, the soliloquies of Hamlet bring the idea of delay to our notice. This idea of delay shows Hamlet's preoccupation with his role. These soliloquies throw a flood of light on Hamlet's character and personality.