Compare the two soliloquies of Act 2 scene 2

Categories: To Be Or Not to Be

In these two substantial speeches, the character of Hamlet Junior is revealed, and portrays a lot about the made-believe character’s state of mind. Shakespeare, who has shown Hamlet to be aberrant, in a sense that he makes absurd remarks which no other character seems to understand, but in actual fact has a lot of meaning in them. At the beginning of the first soliloquy, Hamlet’s self hatred is exposed and Shakespeare emphasis’s his isolation. He starts by saying, ” Now I am alone” which is a cleaver use of language by Shakespeare, because it is a sort of pun.

One meaning being that he is saying it literally and telling the audience he is talking to them, or he could in fact be referring to his close friends and family, trying to say that he is alone in society and doesn’t have nobody he can rely on, or trust. This is because the only people in his life he thought he could trust have let him down.

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Gertrude, Ophelia and most importantly Claudius sit on top of his list. Hamlet’s self-hatred is shown when he says, “o what a… slave am I! ” He feels like he has betrayed his father for not believing him.

Shakespeare shows the audience that he has low self-esteem for not taking his much promised revenge to the spirit of Hamlet Senior. This is because he asks the ‘players’ to act out the death of his beloved father, and wait to see the reaction of Claudius.

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For this reason he starts to question his devotion to his father and goes on to say, “Am I a coward? At this point he has no self-belief and has very negative thoughts of himself. This is merely due to him not taking action against Claudius. All this self-hatred and negative thoughts makes the character of Hamlet seem melancholy.

Shakespeare shows Hamlet’s anger towards himself, just simply as his anger for the king switched onto himself. Hamlet goes on to say, “who calls me villain… plucks off my beard… I should take it” (lines 567-572). This is basically the character saying that, he should accept all the insults thrown at him, because he deserves it for being a “coward”. This makes the audience feel sorrow towards him and pity him. Shakespeare here has made Hamlet in the space of a few lines switch from sorrow to anger towards himself, because afterwards he goes on to say “…

but I am pigeon-liver’d”, which is a person who is scared, this shows how much anger he has towards himself. He then goes onto taking the anger towards himself and turning it on his uncle. He refers to Claudius as “remorseless treacherous lecherous kindless villain”. Here Shakespeare releases Hamlet’s fury and rage by using curse words towards Claudius. This also shows that Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage frustrates him, and is a way for him to get it all off his chest.

Before he unleashes his fury, his mind is suffocating as he has too much to keep to himself. Because as he releases all of his fury instantly he comes up with a plan and he starts to think straight. Shakespeare makes Hamlet end his soliloquy with two excellent lines as they rounds up the whole soliloquy; “the plays the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King. ” This explains his idea because if the King’s guilt shows he’ll have more proof, and is also a positive sign as he starts to get a more stable state of mind.

Also the last two lines are rhyming couplets and this is a technique used a lot by Shakespeare, as it is a sort of cue point for the actors and is used on long speeches. The second soliloquy Hamlet starts to question his existence. He again has a negative insight of himself, “to be, or not to be”. This is Shakespeare making Hamlet question his existence. It relates to the theme of seeming and being. Where Hamlet is asking himself if there is any point of him existing. This seems to be the case when Claudius and Polonius are spying on him.

But when scrutinized it could be that Hamlet knows of the spying and is saying this just to confuse Claudius and Polonius more. This is very cleaver because although it seems like he is mad he is in actual fact not. This shows a lot about his state of mind because if he was still in denial and not thinking straight he would not be able to cleverly confuse Claudius and Polonius. Hamlet carries on talking about the theme of death and although he has got a lot of his problems off his chest he still is not totally focused and still has problems.

He talks of taking “arms against a sea of troubles” which is an excellent metaphor used by Shakespeare as it gives the audience a picture in their minds. This basically means that problems are never ending and will go on forever. Hamlet is questioning weather one should take on all their troubles or just give up and die. Although Hamlet’s state of mind seems to be unstable it is actual fact at its best as he manages to make Claudius believe he is mad by talking of if he should die or not.

Shakespeare makes Hamlet talk of this to deceive Claudius and although it seems like this is the only reason, it also refers to his life. Hamlet says, “… what dreams may come” which means that if people knew what the afterlife was like would they suffer the “whips and scorns of time. ” This is an excellent metaphor as it describes life by referring to time as being able to whip and having scorns. This builds up a strong image in the audience’s head of a bad perception of life. This shows Hamlet’s intelligence and strong state of mind as he manages to express his feelings as well as making Claudius think he is mad.

In conclusion Hamlet in the first soliloquy was emotionally unstable. Shakespeare has portrayed him like this to make the audience feel sorrow towards him. But towards the end of the speech he gets an idea after expressing his feelings aloud clearing his head, which allowed him to think straight. In the second soliloquy Hamlet’s state of mind is still a bit unstable because although he has expressed his feelings he still has the problem of Claudius to deal with. He felt a lot of self-hatred and anger and didn’t know who to focus it on.

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Compare the two soliloquies of Act 2 scene 2. (2017, Jul 29). Retrieved from

Compare the two soliloquies of Act 2 scene 2

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