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Needs a bit of improvement…but helpful

Hamlet soliloquy – act 1 scene 2

Throughout the play “Hamlet”, William Shakespeare uses a number of soliloquies


to outline the thoughts of Hamlets. This gives an indication to Hamlet’s true
character, showing the contrast between his put-on antics and actual nature.

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,


Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead!—nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr…

This extract from Hamlets first soliloquy of the play, describes his will to be
“parted from the earth” this is made plain in the very first lines “O that this too too
solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew…” which these show
how his thoughts are suicidal, this is due to the fact that all seems to be turning
badly for him, the speech itself follows a conversation where Hamlet is not
allowed to return to his studies at Wittenberg, conjoined with the fact that his
father, the previous king has died, only to replaced by his despised uncle, and
that his mother has married said uncle. This is why Hamlet quotes the world to
be so terrible, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses
of this world! Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,” and how it is better to be
dead than to live in such a place.
Unfortunately he feels that he cannot commit suicide as it would place him
against god who does not want such things, which he contemplates out loud, “…
that the Everlasting had not fix’d His canon ’gainst self-slaughter!”. This shows
Hamlet’s knack of putting his schemes on hold, by merely finding reasons not to
continue with them or just delaying them, such as his plot to put on a play to
prove the guiltiness of his uncle of the murder of his father. Hamlet expresses his
distaste for the hurriedness of his mothers second marriage which he finds
disrespectful to his fathers name, saying, “Possess it merely. That it should come
to this! But two months dead!—nay, not so much, not two ”. As he finds his father
comparable to the Hyperion, god of the sun whereas Claudius, his uncle, is a
satyr, half man, half goat… which shows how he imagines his uncle to be
The soliloquy is strewn with literary devices which are a common occurrence in
Hamlets soliloquies, and indeed most of Shakespeare’s plays.

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,


Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

These two lines are a metaphor which symbolise Hamlets wish to pass away, in
what one would imagine to be a painful manner, this shows how Hamlet believes
a painful death to be more agreeable than to be alive in such a despicable world.
The words “a dew” could be associated to the form water or be phonetically
interpreted to sound like the French word “adieu” meaning goodbye, which could
be Hamlet saying his farewell.

Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d


His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!

This, his counter argument to committing suicide depicts how god is set against
suicide (“self-slaughter”) with his metaphorical “canon”. This is used to go against
him having to kill himself by putting up such a powerful symbol, the canon which
would have been one of the most powerful weapons of the age. This reference to
a weapon is a recurring theme throughout the play, where a number of weapons
are mentioned.

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable


Seem to me all the uses of this world!

This description of the world shows Hamlet’s train of thought; the use of a
quadricolon, “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” shows his resentment at how the
recent turn of events have shown him the unfairness and depravity of the world
that surrounds him.

Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,


That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

At this point, Hamlet could be thinking toward his mother, this could be
interpreted as the “garden” being metaphorical for her, and Claudius is the “seed”
that “possesses” her making her “rank and gross in nature”, showing how
Claudius is the source of sin of the once innocent mother.

So excellent a king; that was, to this,


Hyperion to a satyr…

This part, describing Hamlet’s father a “Hyperion” and the uncle as a “satyr” is yet
another example of Shakespeare’s constant use of metaphors. The extremity of
the comparison is an indication of how Hamlet is extremely livid about his uncle’s
betrayal.

A director may advise an actor would begin this soliloquy in a dramatic tone,
possibly holding his hand over his eyes to arouse the air that he is being
overdramatic. Which would make the lines “Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!” more obvious that Hamlet is
just finding excuses to counter his bravado and not pull through with his
proclamations, which could be said with a sigh for exaggeration, this comic start
to the soliloquy is useful to make the rest stand out more as it is said in a more
serious tone as Hamlet is portraying his distaste for his uncles sordid relationship
with his mother, view of the world and comparing his father to the king. Whilst
describing the negative points of the world (“How weary, stale, flat, and
unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world!”) the actor playing Hamlet
could emphasise each adjective to show Hamlet’s spite.
The next lines which talk about the “unweeded garden” should begin quietly as if
Hamlet is muttering to himself to show how the soliloquy is an insight into his
thought process, but the actor should increase the volume of his voice for the line
“that it should come to this!” to show how incredulous Hamlet is at his mothers
actions.
At the point where Hamlet is comparing his father to his uncle, the actor playing
Hamlet should say the word “Hyperion” in an impressive manor, standing
broadly, and then slouch and lower the tone of his voice to say “satyr” to show
how impressive the comparison is.

In conclusion, Shakespeare uses soliloquies in Hamlet to show his thoughts and


feelings throughout the play, giving an essential insight into his characteristics,
such as his procrastinating side, which helps the audience feel that they have a
better connection with the characters.