Sunday, October 13, 2019
The Soliloquies of Shakespeares Hamlet - To be or not to be Soliloquy :: GCSE English Literature Coursework
Hamlet --Ã Ã¢â¬Å"To be or not to beÃ¢â¬ Soliloquy Ã Ã Ã When the Bard of Avon created Hamlet, he simultaneously created the famous soliloquy ever uttered by English-speaking men. Thus it is that literary critics rank HamletÃ¢â¬â¢s fourth soliloquy as the most notable ever penned. LetÃ¢â¬â¢s examine in this essay how such a high ranking is deserved, and what the soliloquy means. Ã In his essay Ã¢â¬Å"An Explication of the PlayerÃ¢â¬â¢s Speech,Ã¢â¬ Harry Levin refers to the fourth soliloquy as the most famous of them all: Ã Dwelling on gross details and imperfections of the flesh (Ã¢â¬Å"Eyes without feeling, feeling without sightÃ¢â¬ ), Hamlet will admonish his mother that sense-perception is dulled by sensual indulgence. Here insensibility is communicated by a rhetorical assault upon the senses: primarily Ã¢â¬Å"the very faculties of eyes and ears,Ã¢â¬ but incidentally touch and even taste. Leaving the senseless Priam to the insensate Pyrrhus, after another hiatus of half a line (37), the speech addresses violent objurgations to the bitch-goddess Fortune, about whom HamletÃ has lately cracked ribald jokes with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; whose buffets and rewards he prizes Horatio for suffering with equanimity; against whom he will, in the most famous of all soliloquies [my italics], be tempted to take arms. (36) Ã Marchette Chute in Ã¢â¬Å"The Story Told in HamletÃ¢â¬ describes just how close the hero is to suicide while reciting his most famous soliloquy: Ã Ã Hamlet enters, desperate enough by this time to be thinking of suicide. It seems to him that it would be such a sure way of escape from torment, just to cease existing, and he gives the famous speech on suicide that has never been worn thin by repetition. Ã¢â¬Å"To be, or not to be . . .Ã¢â¬ It would be easy to stop living. Ã To die, to sleep; No more. And by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to . . . Ã But Hamlet has never succeeded in deceiving himself, and he cannot do so now. . . . [He] will not . . . be able to kill himself. He has thought too much about it to be able to take any action. (39) Ã Considering the context of this most notable soliloquy, the speech appears to be a reaction from the determination which ended the Ã¢â¬Å"rogue and peasant slaveÃ¢â¬ soliloquy. In fact, in the Quarto of 1603 the Ã¢â¬Å"To beÃ¢â¬ speech comes BEFORE the playersÃ¢â¬â¢ scene and the nunnery scene Ã¢â¬â and is thus more logically positioned to show its emotional connection to the previous soliloquy (Nevo 46).
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