Hamlet’s first soliloquy is concerning his mother’s seeming lack of mourning for his father and her desire to wed Hamlet’s uncle in such a short space of time after his death. The first lines reveal the feelings within himself. His “sullied flesh” describes himself as impure flesh, primarily because he is human, but also because he is of the same flesh as his mother in a physical sense. He wishes upon himself death, that his “flesh would melt,”. The metaphor of melting as dew is an indication of his will of complete bodily destruction.
There is no thought of a recovery to his normal state of mind here, Hamlet only wishes to be free of his body, with it’s despair and bad emotions, and to be either elevated above it or even below it. The fact that he doesn’t care whether he is up or down shows he is not thinking of the consequences of his actions, whatever they may be. On the more physical side these first lines show extremely strong suicidal tendencies, but the next lines show that, while suicide is uppermost in his mind, his religion prevents him from doing it.
“Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d, His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter. he has been taught that to kill oneself is the highest form of sin against God, as written in his “cannon”, or religious law. This contradiction can only be adding to his confused state of mind. The thoughts he is thinking are dangerous and may contribute to his actions later in the play, as it is obvious his emotions have not completely settled. Hamlet goes on to describe the world as a desolate place, “stale, flat, unprofitable”, after his father’s death, which would have been bad enough, but adding insult to injury, his mothers quick re-marriage.
This moral situation is described in the metaphor he uses in lines 135 to 137, the metaphor of an “unweeded garden”, with the things that grow in it merely possessing it. This also shows that there is little thought in what he is saying, or else he would have noticed that he is also saying it is natural for this progression of events to occur. An untended garden will grow weeds. This lack of thought is indicative of Hamlet’s confused state of mind. The garden is the description of his mother and how she is possessed by the King, whilst not really loving him.
It is this seemingly lax morality that, coupled with his later thoughts about his father’s love for his mother, add to his relationship problems with those around him. Lines 137 to 146 give a little history of his queen and his dead father, sprinkled with metaphors. He compares his uncle to his father as a god compared to a wild beast: “Hyperion to a satyr,” and describes how the dead king loved his wife so much, he would not allow the wind to blow on her too hard. But Hamlet compares this love to that of the queen herself, which is more lust than love.
In lines 145 to 151 Hamlet uses the metaphor of shoes to describe the speed at which his mother married after the funeral. “A little month, or ere those shoes were old… she… married, My father’s brother”. This is saying that the shoes she wore at the funeral were not worn by the time she wore them for the wedding. In the middle of this section Hamlet pauses to consider that an animal incapable of rational thought would have mourned longer. Hamlet has some serious issues about the speed at which his mother moved on and this reveals his confused state.
To the audience, as outside observers, it is more obvious that his uncle had more than a little to do with the transfer of his mother’s affections, but Hamlet seems to ignore this fact. He seems so sunk in despair he can only see what he wants to. The way he speaks the “she” in 156 is important to the interpretation of the line. It could be read into it that better is expected of the queen than from other women, but the first two words definitely work to soften the ext before the passionate outbreak of emotion to follow.
Using the blasphemy, and meaning it, in Hamlet’s day was considered to be a great sin, and this adds weight to his following statements. Hamlet then compares his father to his uncle; that they were as different as he, Hamlet, was to Hercules. This is curious for a potentially strong leader, and shows his internal feelings of inadequacy. To be a king of what at that time was a very powerful country would require inner strength, something Hamlet doesn’t seem to have, judging from the speech, although he is most distraught.
It is assumed that to be king was what he was aiming for, although the speech partly contradicts this assumption. If he really wanted to be king it would be more likely that he would put more emphasis on his uncle and how he stole the throne from Hamlet. It could be read into the speech that Hamlet does not care for Denmark, although his background makes this highly unlikely. The other possibility is that he is just very confused. Lines 155 to 168 describe how he sees that the salt from his mother’s tears had not gone from her face by the time she remarried.
This is returning to Hamlet’s anger about his mother speed at marrying uncle. The entire speech is centred around the fact that Hamlet is extremely distraught at the speed at which his mother married. This is strange as it would be more likely that Hamlet would be angry at his uncle for taking the throne from him, when it should have passed to him as his birthright. This shows he is not thinking completely straight after the shock of his father’s death.
His speech illustrates his confused state of mind by jumping about from thought to thought, although still carrying the continuing theme of his mother’s re-marriage. Throughout the speech it would be more logical for Hamlet to be plotting his revenge, but he seems more concerned analysing his mother’s problems. In a context other than a soliloquy it might be reasonable to assume that he was speaking to cover his true intent, but seeing as the written soliloquy is personal, not directed at another character, Hamlet is obviously in a state of some mental distress, and very confused.