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Abby Holdeman
Mrs. Carter
AP Literature
8 February, 2015
To Kill or Not to Kill: A Tale of Two Hamlets
A soliloquy is a characters innermost thoughts, revealed to the audience in an
attempt to help them understand what a character is going through internally.a
characters internal struggles. Shakespeare utilizes soliloquies in his the tragedy ,
Hamlet, to help show the young prince Hamlets inner conflict. It also is a helpful at
developingSoliloquies also help develop Hamlets character as both a revenge-seeker
and a melancholic. Though Hamlet desires vengeance for the murder of his father, as is
his nature as a revenger, his nature as a melancholic clashes with this desire, creating a
Hamlet that dwells on the difficulties of enacting revenge.
instead of biting the bullet and getting it done.
Hamlets first soliloquy takes place near the end of Act 1 Scene 5. It embodies
Hamlets grief at losing his father and his wish to honor his father by any means
necessary. Hamlets well-educated state may make him averse to violence, but he sees
no other way to obey his fathers wishes, and therefore dedicates his life to killing the
king. He is so willing to obey his ghost father that he will wipe away all trivial fond
records [...] and thy commandment alone shall live / Within the book and volume of my
brain and devote his life to this revenge, until his uncle is dead and the late King
Hamlet can rest in peace (H, i, .v, .837-842). Driven by his love for his father that has
spiraled him into grief and his need for revenge, Hamlet begins to descend into

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madness as he forgets everything but veangance vengeance. He means for this to be
temporary., Hhe even tells Horatio not to think it odd if he acts strange, as he is putting
on a show for the court. However, it is soon seen thatsoon Hamlets feigned madness
turns into real madness, as the battle between the need for revenge and melancholy
wages on inside of him.
Hamlets soliloquy in Act 2 Scene 2 holds some of the greatest irony in the
tragedy. Hamlet reprimands himself for being slow to enact his revenge against King
Claudius. If Hamlet had sought revenge soon after learning about his uncles treachery,
his story would take the path of Fortinbras. The three sons, Hamlet, Laertes, and
Fortinbras all serve to show different versions of the same story, a son wanting revenge
for the death of his father. However, Hamlets revenge is hindered by his melancholic
nature. He laments this nature while questioning an actor he had just spoken to, What
would he do / Had he the motive and the cue for passion / That I have? He would drown
the stage in tears (H, ii., ii., 1633-1635). Hamlet is again admitting the grief he feels
over his fathers death and despair over the fact that an actor is doing more with false
grief than Hamlet is doing with his very real, very passionate grief. This soliloquy also
develops Hamlets inner conflict, as his revengeful and melancholic natures collide. He
believes he needs more evidence before he can decidedly take revenge against
Claudius, despite his vehement promise to his ghost father in the first act. Thus, Hamlet
decides to have the traveling actors put on a play that mirrors the murder of his father,
and judge the kings reaction. With this cunning plan in place, Hamlet believes he will
finally be able to justify to himself murdering Claudius.

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In Act 3 Scene 3, Hamlet passes Claudius praying, alone and vulnerable. Though
now thoroughly convinced of Claudius guilt, Hamlet balks at his chance to take
revenge. Hamlet defends this missed opportunity by saying that if he killed Claudius
now, he would go to heaven. He states, am I then revengd / To take him in the purging
of his soul / When he is fit and season for his passage? / No (H , iii., iii. , 2367-2370).
Instead, he once again puts off the murder of Claudius until a time when he is drunk
asleep, or in his rage [...] so that his soul may be as damnd and black / as Hell (H, iii.,
iii., 2372-2378). This again exemplifies Hamlets conflicting natures; Hamlet is presented
with a chance to take his revenge, with his prey primed and ready for the kill, but
instead falls back on his melancholic nature to justify sparing Claudius life once more.
The last soliloquy in Hamlet takes place in Act 4 Scene 4, as Hamlet learns of
young Fortinbras plan of action. He finally realizes that he needs to be acting instead of
planning and reacting. God did not give man the capability and godlike reason / To fust
in us unusd (H, iv., iv. , 2827-2828). This realization represents one of Hamlets final
turning points in the play, as it represents Hamlets desire for revenge - melancholy no
longer taints this desire. Hamlet expresses his need for revenge in the pure form.
Tragically, Hamlets need for revenge ends in his death.
Hamlets soliloquies in the Shakespeare tragedy of the same name serve to
develop the inner conflict between his desire for revenge and his melancholicy nature.
In act after act, Hamlets melancholy overpowers his vengefulness and nothing gets
done, until finally he is jarred into action by young Fortinbras.