Hamlet’s First Soliloquy

Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 1 Scene II is his first of the play and, as a consequence, allows the audience to see his inner thoughts for the first time. The subjects of this soliloquy are numerous: his father’s death, his mother’s response to this death, his mother’s remarriage to his uncle and Hamlet’s own sense of anger at how his life worsened in a short space of time. Shakespeare uses rich imagery to portray Hamlet’s sense of inner turmoil.

Shakespeare begins Hamlet’s soliloquy with immediate ambiguity. The word ‘sullied’, meaning dirtied or spoilt, is used to describe Hamlet’s flesh. This word may be used because the incestuous relationship between his mother and uncle has corrupted his family name and the purity of his blood. However, there are two other, equally pertinent, interpretations of the word Shakespeare meant to use: firstly, ‘sallied’, meaning ‘attacked’ or ‘assailed’ relates to the context because Hamlet may feel he is the victim in these set of circumstances. This would be consistent with Hamlet’s morose state of mind in the soliloquy and his self-piteous nature. Secondly, the word may have been ‘solid’. This is consistent with the changing of states in the next two lines (‘thaw’, ‘resolve’ and ‘dew’). It is...

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