Before the Storm

When Hamlet sees Fortinbras' army headed for combat in Poland he is moved to deliver a striking monologue about the battle raging in his soul. Passion and anger drive Hamlet to avenge his father's murder at any cost, while logic and reason turn him away from blindly following his feelings. In the scene after he kills Polonious, Hamlet must decide to end his quest for revenge, or follow through with his murderous plans. This soliloquy sees Hamlet turn away from the logic, which has stifled him, and embrace the irrational passion, which will guide his actions for the rest of the play.

Much of the speech sounds like the locker room chant before a big football game: "I have cause, and will, and strength, and means, to do't.(IV.iv.45)" Hamlet appears to be psyching himself up to revenge his father's death. Inspired by the bravery and strength of the soldiers, he rebels against his previous inaction, going so far as to call it bestial. But the notion that his soliloquy is simply a riveting pep talk does not hold up under scrutiny. The speech is full of irony and contradiction that allude to the complex meaning of Hamlet's words.

At the beginning of the monologue Hamlet says that his reason will lead him...

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