Hamlet’s soliloquy

Hamlet: 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. To die — to sleep –
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death –
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb’red.

Ophelia: Good my lord

The Soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet ,where Hamlet contemplates suicide contains some of the finest imagery that one could think of .The imagery, varied in its use of analogy and sounding exceedingly musical in the choice of diction,creates the mood for the contemplation . The mood is one of melancholy ,but not bordering on self-pity .The imagery conveys a spirit of fight-back with the forces of nature -everything here is a battle with the outrageous fortune where one retains the right to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing,end them.But there is a see-saw between the fighting spirit and despair and in the next line ,he is talking about “to die – to sleep-No more;and by a sleep to say/we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”Then comes the beautiful usage : It’s a consummation to be devoutly wished .In the next lines ,Hamlet comes out of the melancholy briefly ,talking about “to sleep-perchance to dream”.

The other pretty usage is present in the classic line :That patient merit of the unworthy takes/when he himself might his quietus make/With a bare bodkin. Another beautiful image is present in the line :the undiscovered country ,from whose bourn no traveller returns- which is another classic Shakespearean quote.

“The native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought” is a brilliant use of visual imagery to create the sombre tone of the soliloquy. Resolution shines brilliantly but it is the pale cast of thought that spreads gloom bringing about indecision and uncertainty.

One comment on “Hamlet’s soliloquy

  1. Samira Awada says:

    Love your site man keep up the good work

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