Hamlet to Be or Not to Be Soliloquy Analysis Essay
887 WordsMay 26th, 20094 Pages
The "To Be or Not To Be" speech in the play, "Hamlet," portrays Hamlet as a very confused man. He is very unsure of himself and his thoughts often waver between two extremes due to his relatively strange personality. In the monologue, he contemplates whether or not he should continue or end his own life. He also considers seeking revenge for his father’s death. Evidence of his uncertainty and over thinking is not only shown in this speech, but it also can be referenced in other important parts of the play.
The topic of Hamlet’s soliloquy is his consideration of committing suicide. Throughout the speech, it is obvious that Hamlet is over thinking and wavering between two different extremes: life and death. "Whether 'tis nobler in the…show more content…
The "dread of something after death, The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will" (3, 1, 78-80) and keeps people from choosing death due to the fear of the unknown. His entire monologue compares the two extremes: life and death. He analyzes both situations and thinks very much about the consequences of either action. This occurs not only in this speech, but also later in the play, and demonstrates that Hamlet’s indecisive personality is his fatal flaw. Hamlet does not only have a hard time choosing between life and death. He also can not choose between murdering Claudius or not. Even though Hamlet wanted to kill his uncle, he was terrified of the possible consequences and could not make a concrete decision. Consequently, he ended up procrastinating greatly with the murder.
Hamlet knows that he over thinks everything. He plans to kill Claudius because of his desperate desire to avenge his father’s death and right the wrong that was committed, but cannot go through with his plan due to his confusion and uncertainty. He says, "Whether it be Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on th'event -A thought which quartered hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward -I do not know Why yet I live to say this things to do" (4, 4, 39-44). He sees himself as either being a coward and as over thinking his actions to delay the murder, instead of killing Claudius when he had the chance.
"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 them." This sentence is possibly one of the most famous ever written by Shakespeare or by anyone at all. People everywhere recite it, but most don't know what it means. Hamlet, during his soliloquy is lamenting the unjust death of his father, but more so the betrayal to him and is father by his uncle and mother. He is also grieving the deeds the ghost of the late King Hamlet is expecting from him and the choice between living in constant personal agony and committing suicide, which would leave him vulnerable for whatever might follow.
Shakespeare frequently uses metaphors, to more accurately and more effectively describes the emotions of his characters. "The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" is a perfect example of this. This describes Hamlets feelings of dismay and helps him contemplate whether it is better to suffer from this constant barrage of bad fortune or to commit suicide and oppose all these "slings and arrows" which are the cause for his suffering. Another example of this is when Hamlet ponders the idea of death and what feelings and thought that are experienced in the afterlife. "When we have shuffled off this mortal coil" he is unsure what to expect from the dreams that he could possibly experience. The "mortal coil" itself is describing life and the awkward path that it takes. He goes on and realizes that the lack of knowledge about the feelings and thoughts in death, is what ultimately keeps him from ending his life instantly. Shakespeare's metaphors are not only limited to a phrase or a sentence, but Hamlets whole soliloquy is metaphorical.
Hamlet never actually states his indecision over suicide; he uses sleep and war to describe his emotion. Sleep is easily connected and translated to death, but the war symbolizes more. The war he describes is a metaphor for his emotions. He needs to express the turmoil he feels within him, and therefore uses the only thing that can be outrageous enough and such a frenzy of emotion, war.
The soliloquy perfectly fits into the previous actions of Hamlet. Of course this shows Hamlet is on the verge of madness if he isn't already there. This also shows Hamlet's frame of mind. He is always double-checking everything to make sure he doesn't do the wrong thing. He confronts Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to assure himself that Claudius is trying to keep him in check, he puts on a play to make sure that Claudius is uncomfortable about the whole situation and he committed the murder, and now he double checks and weighs his options: Commit suicide and possibly face horror, or live in constant misery.
Hamlet is portrayed as a complex character, with a constant display of wild emotion. His soliloquy alone shows his sorrow and self-pity, along with his madness. This is also and example of how Shakespeare constantly uses metaphors and symbolism in such a flawless way, it clarifies and accents the emotions felt by the characters.