Answer: Soliloquy is a dramatic technique of speaking alone on the stage. It is a dramatic convention of exposing to the audience – the intentions, thoughts and feelings of a character who speaks to himself while no one remains on the stage. Here in the tragic play “Hamlet” the soliloquies spoken by the protagonist are directed to the audience, rather than seeming like conversations with himself. Some of the famous Hamlet’s soliloquies have been elucidated below.
Hamlet’s first soliloquy reveals him to be thoroughly disgusted with Gertrude, Claudius and at the world in general. He considers the world to be an unweeded garden with no significance of life and in a grievous tone says:
“O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!”
He is saddened at the death of his father, whom he admired as a king and husband to his mother. His grief over his father’s death is compounded by his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius. Hamlet believes that even a beast that has no power of reasoning, would mourn longer but she had not. The worst part is that he cannot tell them how he feels. This soliloquy kindles an interest in the readers and provides a glimpse on Hamlet’s thoughts while informing the audience of the history of his family’s tribulations.
In the second soliloquy, Hamlet calls on the audience ‘the distracted globe’ to hear his vow to take revenge on his uncle. Now he promises to erase all the foolish lessons in order to remember the commandment of the ghost. The ghost that resembles his father has told him that King Claudius has murdered his father and his soul cannot rest until the revenge is taken. The audience here learns Hamlet’s promise to make Clausius pay for this unnatural crime. Already the audience is excited at Hamlet’s promise because it is giving them something to look forward.
In his third soliloquy, Hamlet admits to the audience that he is a coward. So for his inaction like a day dreamer, he is chiding himself in this way:
Why, what an ass am I!
Then he is telling the audience about his new idea of justifying the credibility of the news provided by the ghost. This results in delay to reach his goal. Although heaven and hell urge him to take revenge, he must examine the truth through the play with the poison pouring scene. If his uncle reacts to the scene, he will be confirmed of his uncle’s involvement in the murder. Now the audiences have even more of a buildup of what is to come.
In the fourth soliloquy, the Prince of Denmark is in a dilemma whether to commit suicide or to accept the pangs of the world stoically or to fight back against them.
“To be or no to be – that is the question;”
Then he is frightened of the consequences of the life after death and its punishment. He puts a logic that if there were no punishment of God for suicide, nobody would tolerate injustice, the insults of the world, the arrogance of the undeserving superiors, the sufferings of the unrequited love, the delay of law, adversities and the cruelty of a tyrant. It is such fear that robs of courage to commit suicide and transforms us into a coward. Here the audience observes that Hamlet is incapable of taking revenge, as he is always contemplative.
In conclusion, it is clear from the above discussion that the audience is always being included in Hamlet’s thinking process through the use of the soliloquies. Such involvement of the audience helps the real meaning of the play shine through. Some critics view that without the soliloquies, the play “Hamlet’ would degenerate into a cheap melodrama.