Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hamlet's Fourth Soliloquy

I find it interesting that Hamlet debates suicide, which at the time would seem like a "no-go" for many people because of the religions they believed in. I think Hamlet, being a noble lord and prince, should be the last person to consider suicide because he could always have some servants do something for him. Hamlet debates on which is nobler, to live and fight, or die and give up. So he is essentially questioning suicide and asking about it as a way out. He compares death to a dream and sleeping and comments that a dream could be a nightmare, or a good dream, but we don’t know which, and this is why most people do not commit suicide; they are afraid of what might lie ahead. He also goes into a dualistic analysis of humans, saying that the brain thinks and the body acts, and sometimes his brain thinks to much because he cannot bring the courage necessary to kill Claudius. This speech is different from the others in the fact that he kicks himself for not killing Claudius, whereas in the others he does not talk directly about his plans for killing him. 

7 comments:

Austin Falk said...

It is interesting how Hamlet seems to think so highly of suicide. He accuses him self as being to "cowardly" to avenge his father's death by killing Claudius, however, he seems to not be as cowardly when it comes to thoughts about suicide. Although he doesn't know what will happen once he dies, he still seems to think suicide may be a better alternative then going through life. Even though at this point in the play he has not killed himself, I wonder if he feels that dying for his father by suicide would be an adequate method for avenging his father's death. He reasons that if he can't kill Claudius, why not kill himself.

Laura N said...

As I answered question 3 on the ACT 3 packet in class, it occurred to me that Hamlet might be going through the five step grieving process: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Comparing the "to be or not to be" soliloquy with the first 2 lead me to this conclusion. In his first one (pg 14) Hamlet seems angry at the world and at Gertrude and Claudius, degrading them to beasts. In the second soliloquy (58-60), hamlet is angry at himself, calling himself a monster and slave for being cowardly. At this point (third soliloquy pg 63), Hamlet has been wallowing in his depression and misery and is probably less angry. He also doubts (is in denial) that Claudius killed his father, and waits till he has the evidence. I don’t think we ever get to the acceptance part though, because he dies.

Lindsay A said...

In response to Laura, I think Hamlet's acceptance was when he finally resolved to kill his uncle. Part of Hamlet's battle is his own cowardice, since he is afraid of the unknown. He also wasn't sure that his uncle had actually killed his father and he used the play to make sure. I think he had to accept that the ghost was telling the truth and-despite a fear of what might happen-Hamlet had to carry out the revenge.

Grant Reggio said...

You remind me of another good point when you talk about his cowardice. Hamlet seems to again be portrayed in a very "unmanly" light. At the start of the play, he was considered unmanly for grieving by his uncle. His fickleness, as described in his love for Ophelia, can be considered immature, as is his pessimistic outlook on life. Hamlet seems much the contrast of a man at all.

Ben Bonner said...

With regards to what Grant said,we spent alot of time talking about what it meant to be a man for the contemporaries of Shakespeare when we studied Macbeth last year. I think it's really interesting to look at this question when we have to account for suicide because the classical age and the Renaissance period had polar opposite views of suicide. Regardless of this question though, I think it is more the fact that Hamlet can't choose either suicide or murder that causes him to be portrayed in a cowardly manner.

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