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Analysis of Hamlet's First Soliloquy

Analysis of Hamlet's First Soliloquy


Hamlet’s first soliloquy in Act I, scene ii, lines 133-164 is a passionate and startling passage that strongly contrasts to the artificial dialogue and actions that he portrays to his uncle Claudius throughout the remainder of the play. This soliloquy serves to reveal Hamlet’s melancholia and the reasons for his dispair in an outpouring of anger, disgust, sorrow, and grief through which he explains how everything in his life seems futile and miserable. He mourns the death of his father, is sickened by his mother’s marriage to his uncle, and also feels extremely miserable about the entire situation with regards to the value of his own life.


Hamlet is so grieved by his father’s death, that he too wishes to die. He feels as if he is a defiled person stating that “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into dew” (I.ii.133-134). He seems to hope that if he was to die, then he would become cleansed and pure as the dew cleanses the earth at the dawn of day. He wants to break out of the captivity of his flesh as a “spiritual release” of sorts. Shakespeare juxtaposes this notion with the term “Everlasting” (I.ii.135) making his body posses a state of permanence something that is everlasting compared to breaking down into the dew that he wishes to become. Hamlet also realizes that committing suicide would be considered a sin in the eyes of the “Everlasting” God (I.ii.135) who with his “canon ‘gainst (self slaughter!)” (I.ii.136) would prevent him from reaching heaven.


Shakespeare also uses metaphors for Gertrude, by stating that she is “an unweeded garden That grows to seed.” (I.ii.139). This can be seen in many ways, one of which is the possibility that Hamlet is portraying his mother as a sort of Virgin Mary who was sexually untouched and unviolated like an unbreached garden prior to her “fall.” This would make Claudius into a Satan-like figure who breaches the garden with his bed “stewed in corruption” (III.iv.93) and she loses her purity and grows to seed.


Saddened not only by his father’s death, Hamlet is also outraged about the quick marriage between Gertrude and Claudius. Hamlet retracts Gertrude’s initial grief at the loss of her husband saying that she cried “unrighteous tears” (I.ii.159) and he is tormented by images of his mother’s affection towards his father, believing...

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