Sunday, September 1, 2019
Hamlet Second Soliloquy
In the last scene of act I Hamlet is told by the ghost that his father has been murdered by Uncle Claudius, the brother of the deceased king. Hamlet once mournful and grim turns revengeful, he promises the ghost to Ã¢â¬Å"sweepÃ¢â¬ to revenge. But he is tormented with doubts. The ghost has taken its toll on Hamlet but has not been convincing enough, he cannot fully trust it given that it might also be an evil spirit willing to make him change course, misleading him to murder an innocent man and be Ã¢â¬Å"damnedÃ¢â¬ as Hamlet puts it in his words full of fear and anxiety.For such reasons Hamlet conceives a plan, he is going to wear a mask of madness, or put on Ã¢â¬Ëthe antic dispositionÃ¢â¬â¢, which Hamlet considers will make things easier for him: Hamlet under the mask of madness intends getting people talk more freely in his presence and thus he might easily find the truth about his uncle. But, far from working his plan turns to be counterproductive. Soon, Hamlet draws eve n more attention to himself, the royal court is intrigued by his strange behavior and King Claudius summons HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s school friends Rosencratz and Guildernstern asking them to go spy on him.Hamlet is suspicious of his own friends and soon conceives a new idea to trap his uncle: the reenactment of his fatherÃ¢â¬â¢s murder under the cover of a play called Ã¢â¬Å"The Murder of GonzagoÃ¢â¬ . In this particular soliloquy, which comes right after, the audience is waiting to see a more determined Hamlet ready to avenge his fatherÃ¢â¬â¢s murder: indeed it has been a while since Hamlet promised to act. Instead we are presented with an even more confused character, not only uncertain of the world surrounding him but also himself. Shakespeare through the soliloquy paints HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s character.Thus, the audience finds out that Hamlet is self-loathing -HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s opening words: expression of self-disgust: Ã¢â¬Å" O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Ã¢â¬ , HamletÃ¢â¬â ¢s self-critic is obvious here, he reduces himself to the state of a slave. The Prince must really be mad at himself. ShakespeareÃ¢â¬â¢s choice of the word Ã¢â¬Å"slaveÃ¢â¬ might signify HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s inaction, passiveness, just like a slave is chained to his master and incapable of acting against his will, so is Hamlet attached to the shackles of thought and meditation, which impede him from acting, acting freely. -The first layerÃ¢â¬â¢s acting has left Hamlet with a sense of amazement. How come the actor can get himself to cry for something that is imaginary, for Ã¢â¬Å"HecubaÃ¢â¬ , dead thousands of years ago and Hamlet, who has real, true reasons to cry proves unable to express his anguish over the loss of his father and the incestuous remarriage of his mother: Ã¢â¬Å"can say nothing, Ã¢â¬â no not for a kingÃ¢â¬ . -Hamlet suggests here that his inability to express himself is like a betrayal, for Hamlet seems to have forsaken his duty of avenging his father. He c alls himself Ã¢â¬Å"A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my causeÃ¢â¬ .The choice of the adjective Ã¢â¬Å"dullÃ¢â¬ reminds the audience of what the ghost told him in Act I. If Hamlet didnÃ¢â¬â¢t take revenge the ghost said that he would be Ã¢â¬Å"duller than the fat weed/ That roots itself on Lethe wharfÃ¢â¬ . Hamlet seems to be accusing himself of not having the player's passion, of not hating Claudius strongly enough, of not loving his father strongly enough. Hamlet is mad at himself not because he hasnÃ¢â¬â¢t killed Claudius but because he hasnÃ¢â¬â¢t said anything. So Hamlet instead of plotting against Claudius dwells on himself.Another character trait is being developed by Shakespeare, one that the audience is very much familiar with since HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s first soliloquy where he extrapolates his own grief over Denmark, the world in general. It is HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s egocentric side. -Note the abounding number of personal pronouns (I, my, me) used by Hamlet in the soliloquy. It is as if the world revolved around him. When Hamlet shows the actorÃ¢â¬â¢s passion and enthusiasm about his role it is only to stress on his own lack of passion. It is as if the actor were a tool that Hamlet makes use of in order to urge himself into action. The soliloquy is presented as a dialogue between Hamlet and himself. The prince is willing to work himself into a state of passion, revengefulness: Ã¢â¬Å"Am I a coward? Ã¢â¬ The use of the future tense at the end of the soliloquy when Hamlet confirms his intentions concerning the mouse trap is also significant, in sense that Hamlet seems like convincing himself that he will finally do something, that he has a plan, he projects himself into the future trying to influence it Ã¢â¬Å"IÃ¢â¬â¢ll observe his looks, IÃ¢â¬â¢ll tent him to the quick (Ã¢â¬ ¦) IÃ¢â¬â¢ll catch the conscience of the king.At some stage he seems to imagine someone insulting him, Ã¢â¬Å" Who calls me a vi llain, breaks my pate across, plucks off my beard and blows it in my faceÃ¢â¬ . This helps building his rage which culminates when he remembers Claudius in the following linesÃ¢â¬ Bloody bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless, villain! Oh, vengeanceÃ¢â¬ Note the emotiveness of the passage, Hamlet breaks into an emotional climax; he is outraged at the simple thought of his fatherÃ¢â¬â¢s murderer.One could imagine him spitting these words out loud with his finger pointed at an imaginary Claudius accusing him of all of his crimes and ultimately stabbing him with an imaginary dagger withÃ¢â¬ vengeanceÃ¢â¬ in his mind. -But, this is only an imaginary vengeance or Hamlet trying to rehearse in order to get himself in the mood. In the lines that follow HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s focus is again back on himself and how pathetic the whole buildup of passion has beenÃ¢â¬ What an ass am IÃ¢â¬ .The prince thinks that it is not fit for him to curse himself, as he sou nd like a Ã¢â¬Å"whoreÃ¢â¬ or a Ã¢â¬Å"drabÃ¢â¬ or a male whore Ã¢â¬Å" a scullionÃ¢â¬ . Hamlet here is putting on his misogynist character, he cannot tolerate women that in his opinion are all Ã¢â¬Å"whoresÃ¢â¬ , like his beloved Ophelia who betrayed him, or his mother who betrayed his Ã¢â¬Å"dearÃ¢â¬ father. This negative vision, attitude toward women is consistent with Hamlet who in his first soliloquy has already made a sweeping condemnation of the latter Ã¢â¬Å"Frailty thy name is womanÃ¢â¬ . So the princeÃ¢â¬â¢s main target in this soliloquy is himself.He is concerned with questions related with whether he is a coward or not, whether he should act or continue Ã¢â¬Å" like a whore unpack my heart with wordsÃ¢â¬ . We could therefore ask ourselves what purposes this passage serves in the play apart from characterizing Hamlet. -It has little dramatic value given that there is no action. The tension is released, Hamlet is alone on stage meditating yet again and a part from the bits where he gets over agitated the tension in the passage is kept at the minimum. -The passage has also little value in terms of its contribution to the plot.The plot hardly advances in the soliloquy, the mouse trap idea that Hamlet comes up with at the end has been conceived earlier when he asked the first player to prepare for the Murder of Gonzago right before the soliloquy. -The passage therefore rather confirms the plot and serves as a means of delaying the Murder of Gonzago as well as the eventual HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s murder of Claudius. The mouse trap seems to be the first practical idea that Hamlet has ever had since the beginning of the play. It is a relatively reliable plan which would help him find out whether or not his uncle has anything to do with his fatherÃ¢â¬â¢s death.But the audience wonders if this is not simply another excuse for not acting. Indeed, if Hamlet really wanted to kill his uncle the soliloquy would be unnecessary. HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s characte r is pretty ambiguous. On the one hand he considers that his uncle is the most sinful person that has ever existed Ã¢â¬Å"Bloody bawdy villain, remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles, villainÃ¢â¬ . On the other hand, this enumeration of adjectives that negatively qualify his uncle is counterbalanced by the fact that the ghost might also be a misleading Ã¢â¬Å"devilÃ¢â¬ , a possibility which Hamlet reconsiders at the end of the soliloquy.This uncertainty that revolves around HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s character brings us back to the central question of the soliloquy: is Hamlet a coward? Is he ever going to act? The later developments of the play reinforce the doubt. -It is also important to mention the theme of appearance versus reality that is embedded in the central figure of the soliloquy, that of the actor. For Hamlet the actor stands for Ã¢â¬Å"conceitÃ¢â¬ , or in other words deception, which Hamlet despises and is disgusted with. In this sense Uncle Claudius, the ultimate liar and deceiver of the play is certainly viewed by Hamlet as an actor as well.Ironically enough, in order to uncover the truth and show ClaudiusÃ¢â¬â¢ deceptive nature Hamlet resorts to deceit as well by conceiving the mouse trap. For Hamlet therefore deception is a way of revealing the truth, and he certainly views theater as a powerful tool capable not only of putting masks on but also dropping the others. But, what is more striking is HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s obsession with the idea that there is often a disconnect between what people appear to be and what they really are Ã¢â¬Å"is it not monstrous.. Ã¢â¬ .Note the mocking tone with which he relates to the actorÃ¢â¬â¢s job, one filled with admiration as well, given that Hamlet finds himself unable to do the same for his genuine reasons. In the case of his uncle, Hamlet has been told by the ghost that he is a serpent, but the ghost itself under his fatherÃ¢â¬â¢s outfit could also be the devil. Hamlet cannot trust anybody, especially not women who he associates with deception; he is disgusted with human nature Ã¢â¬Å"that one can smile and smile and be a villainÃ¢â¬ , which is again ironic when Hamlet realizes that in his world lies and deceit take a necessary part of the daily life.So the passage is the occasion for Shakespeare to further characterize Hamlet, to show his exacerbated feelings towards himself and those who deceive. Two of HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s character traits are confirmed in the passage: he is self-loathing and egocentric. Also, this passage explores one of the fundamental themes of the play: the theme of appearance versus reality. Also, Shakespeare through the figure of the actor, and the play within the play demonstrates and acclaims the powers of theater.