The act of revenge seems simple, do to others what they have done to you. This is not the case in Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, where Hamlet, a melancholy and contemptuous protagonist ponders the assassination of his father. Hamlet, throughout the play, undergoes a transformation, from a conniving schemer to seeing reality and acting based on the situation. Hamlet undergoes feelings of indecisiveness and procrastination as he picks up the pieces of the murder of his father and the abrupt marriage of his mother to the new king.
He explains his metamorphosis through his five major soliloquies. Hamlet’s first soliloquy (129-159) allows the audience insight on the true workings of the Hamlet’s psyche and the court. The soliloquy explains the reason for the obvious tension at court as well the difference between his public appearances and attitude towards Claudius. In the previous scene, Hamlet upon his return to Denmark is much more submissive, while on line 140 he refers to his uncle as a “satyr”(140). Hamlet then reveals the true source of his rage, “Frailty, thy name is woman! “(146).Order now
His mother cried “unrighteous tears” (156), at the funeral of his father because “With such dexterity in incestuous sheets” his mother remarried his uncle. Hamlet, not only upset about the death of his father, is appalled that she had not “mourn’d longer, — married mine uncle”(149), shattering Hamlet’s Oedipus complex fantasy. Hamlet realizes that to enact revenge, upon the corrupted society, “must hold my tongue! ” (158). The second major soliloquy (552-610) reveals Hamlets plan, not to act rashly and murder the king, but to trap him and force him to react to an altered “Mousetrap”.
Hamlet initially speaks of his true conflict, his desire to get revenge for his murdered father, yet his distaste for cold blooded murder. Then, after calculating the ideas in his head, Hamlet decides follow through with his plans for murder if the ghost is correct in his accusation of Claudius. Hamlet needs concrete proof before committing a mortal sin, he must “catch the conscience of the king. ” (610). Knowing he does not possess the courage to act out such a heinous act, Hamlet pumps him self up by calling his uncle “Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous… ” (585).
His rage will give him the push he needs to transfer his premeditated thoughts into action. After pushing himself to the breaking point, he simmers down with a dose of common sense, noting his rash action. He realizes although he has to murder his uncle, just killing him would not get the task done, he must also remove the poison his uncle laced into the country. After his speech Hamlet is ready to take the first task “I’ll have the players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle;” (600). The nearly the midpoint of the play is possibly the best known soliloquy of all time, “To be or not to be,” (Act 3. 57-90).
In this passage, Hamlet confronts the most controversial point of all time, what is the meaning of life? So far, his soliloquies have been driven by primal emotions, anger and rage. Finally allowing his practicality to govern his mind, Hamlet debates life is worth all the suffering. Upon the return from college, Hamlet has suffered the supposed murder of a father, hasty remarriage of his mother, betrayal of friends and “pangs of dipriz’d love” (73), from Ophelia. He simply asks if it is “nobler of the mind to suffer”(58) or end the misery in a single action.
He can not come to a logical conclusion, lacking evidence “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (66). However, Hamlet would never commit suicide for it is condemned by the church as a mortal sin. Ironically, the cold blooded murder he is calculating is also a mortal sin, yet he goes against suicide for that reason. Hamlet, overwhelmed by the success of his “Mousetrap” scheme falters when an opportune moment arises to kill Claudius. In his fourth major soliloquy (Act 3. 3 95-end) Hamlet, sees a vulnerable Claudius, suffers an attack of conscience when a simple stroke would have finished the job.
Many critics believe that the basis of his procrastination is his inability to commit premeditated murder. Claudius, when Hamlet approaches, is in the middle of repenting his sins, reminding Hamlet of the ghost saying that he is “doomed for a certain time to walk the night and for the day confin’d to fast in fires”(10-11) for not confessing his malefactions. Hamlet’s conscience is jolted, because he wanted to kill Claudius in sin, and murder now would not be noble. However, he now has concrete proof of the assassination of his father, when Claudius exclaims “A brother’s murder! “(39).
Hamlet is handed the perfect opportunity, yet he is still unable to follow through, which he later blames his tendency of “thinking too precisely on th’ event” (Act 4. 4 41). So far, Hamlet has not made any material progress towards his goal of revenge. Ironically, in the end of act three Claudius takes back his confession, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. ” (98-99). Finally, the last soliloquy of the play (4. 4 32-end) shows us the complete transformation of Hamlet’s character. Hamlet’s conscience can no longer retaliate against the reasons for murder and revenge.
The soliloquy focuses on Hamlet’s analysis of Fortinbras compared to himself. Fortinbras travels to Poland with his army to conquer “a little patch of ground” (18). Hamlet sees this march not of necessity, but a march of reputation, “find quarrel in the straw when honour’s at stake. ” (55). This mindset causes Hamlet to feel guilty as if he forgot his father in a “bestial oblivion” (44). When he attacks his personality, he realizes his crucial flaw, indecisiveness. His new found confidence has allows him to relate the idea of Fortinbras, “the immanent deaths of twenty thousand men,” “for a fantasy” (60-61).
Now, Hamlet doesn’t see the revenge of his fathers murder as an obligation, more as a necessary act. He accepts the repercussions of his actions, “How all occasions do inform against me. ” (32). Hamlet, now ready to take action is ready to face his uncle. Finally, “From this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! “(66). Hamlet goes through a complete character transformation in Shakespeare’s play. He begins each soliloquy as an update as to where Hamlet’s conscious lies at that moment. In the first soliloquy Hamlet is overwhelmed with rage and frustration, and in no position to take a serious action.
Second, Hamlet begins to think logically and realizes before going any further with revenge, he needs solid proof. In the next soliloquy, Hamlet finally, devoid of strong emotion, seriously contemplates if all his suffering is leading to a purpose. Fourth, Hamlet has an ideal opportunity to underhandedly kill Claudius, but chooses not to act. In his final soliloquy, Hamlet is ready for action; he has put all of his uncertainty behind him and is ready to bring the truth to light. He will “speak daggers”(145) no more, it is time for his actions to be as bloody as his thoughts.