There are several soliloquies in the play “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” One of these is evident in Act I Scene 2“O that this too too sullied flesh… But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue” (Shakespeare 4).Here, Hamlet expresses his depression, which is caused by the death of his father, a tragedy that was followed closely by his mother’s remarriage to his uncle. The remarriage of his mother to his uncle is another tragedy that causes Hamlet’s depression exhibited in the soliloquy. Also, he expresses his disillusion with everything around him including his life, love, and women. In words “sullied flesh,” Hamlet appears to be referring to the fallen state of a man. Often, the fallen states of men are linked or attributed to women, and in this case, Hamlet blames his father’s death on his mother. In fact, he is surprised that his mother is remarried immediately after his father’s death, a catastrophe that sparked Hamlet’s emotions and interest in avenging his father’s death.
In this soliloquy, Hamlet appears to condemn and curse his mother for lack of delay, and he is depressed with the fact that his mother has fallen “to incestuous sheets” (Shakespeare 4). At this point, the audience can clearly learn about Hamlet’s attitude towards his father, mother, as well as the new father, whom he is strongly against. At some point, he refers to the sixth commandment in the Bible “Thou shalt not kill,” a statement that brings forth his concern about his spiritual state and afterlife. This soliloquy highlights Hamlet’s bitterness, which further reduces him to a crazed-head man as he sets to avenge his father’s death. His commitment to avenge his father’s death is his tragic flaw.It can also be noticed that this soliloquy entails paired opposites such as Hyperion versus satyr, heaven versus earth, heart versus tongue, and several others.
Hamlet’s soliloquy can be compared to the speeches he gives in Act V, scene 2 starting with Horatio: “You will lose, my lord” and ending with “That I have shot my arrow o’er the house/And hurt my brother” (Shakespeare 54). The soliloquy in Act I Scene 2 is completely different from the speeches given by Hamlet in the selected sections of Act V Scene 2. First, in the soliloquy, Hamlet is somber, dejected, lacks confidence, expresses pity, and hates everything around him. For a large part, Hamlet feels worthless living his life. However, the situation is different in Act V Scene 2 as we can see a different Hamlet, who exhibits confidence and authority.
Moreover, when Horatio suggests to him that he will lose, Hamlet appears confident and authoritative and says “I do not think… I shall win at the odds. But thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here about my heart” (Shakespeare 54). This contrasts his state in the soliloquy where he expresses fear, lack of confidence and lack of authority. This is highlighted in the part of the soliloquy when he says,“But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue” (Shakespeare 54). In this statement, despite everything evil surrounding him, including the remarriage of his mother to his uncle, Hamlet lacks the confidence to rebuke these as he does in his later speeches in Act V Scene 2. Instead, he appears to accept fate and the situation when he says, “I must hold my tongue.”
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Project Gutenberg, 1990.