This soliloquy is the closing part of the second act and points out the inner feelings of the prince Hamlet being affected by the tremendous acting of the player which was full of meaning to him. This soliloquy can be divided into two parts: the first part deals with Hamlet being amazed by the passion of the player toward Hecuba “The queen of Troy”, imagining how he would behave if he were in his situation. The second part of soliloquy deals with Hamlet’s self censure and his anger headed for his uncle.
The tone of this soliloquy is of self criticism and can be sensed from the very first line where Hamlet expresses himself as “rouge” and “peasant salve”. Through using different techniques, Shakespeare seeks to maintain this tone from first to last of this soliloquy: One of the tools he uses to achieve this goal is by the means of exclamations made by Hamlet. For instance some of these exclamations are: “all for nothing! For Hecuba! “, “O, vengeance! ” and “What an ass I am! ” The further skill Shakespeare utilizes in order to accomplish this tone of rebuke is by the means of the rhetorical questions that Hamlet asks himself.
Such as: “What’s Hecuba to him or, he to Hecuba? “, “What would he do, had he the motive and the cue of passion that I have? ” and the series of questions he asks himself in the third paragraph. The last literary device used by Shakespeare to preserve this tone of self-criticisms is through using proper diction or the set of words that reveals this mood. Shakespeare uses a variety of diction on behalf of Hamlet, like “dull”, “muddy-mettled rascal” and “John-a-dreams” in order to tell that he is self criticizing himself .
Besides for highlighting the priority of some of Hamlet’s words, Shakespeare employs a series of sound devices, including: Alliterations and consonances. In this soliloquy there are two alliterations applied by Shakespeare in the words of Hamlet- “muddy-mettled” and “damn’d defeat”-. The first alliterations “muddy-mettled” emphasizes the level of Hamlet’s fault for not putting his thoughts into action (having delay in taking his father’s revenge) and the second one “damn’s defeat” points out the tragedy of his father’s murder.
There are also some consonants used by Shakespeare while Hamlet is insulting his uncle by means of the adjectives: “Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles villain”. The reason that Shakespeare uses consonants for these adjectives is to build up their effect on the audience and to present a clear appearance of the king Claudius in the mind of Hamlet. The word “monstrous” used by Hamlet to describe the overflowed emotions of the player for Hecuba signifies that Hamlet has been stunned by it.
Shakespeare also uses the world pride while Hamlet describes the emotions of player to Hecuba in favor of revealing the high imaginative power of the player. In the second paragraph Shakespeare uses a set of hyperboles while Hamlet is imagining how the player would react if he had the melancholy and the duty of taking revenge as he has. “He would drown the stage with tears and cleave the general ear, with horrid speech, make mad the guilty and appall the free, confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed the very faculties of eyes and ears”.
Hamlet uses such shocking Hyperboles for the reason of motivating himself to perform the duty assigned for him by the ghost of his father. Introducing Hecuba as the main emphasis of the opening part of Hamlet’s soliloquy, Shakespeare seeks to demonstrate that Hamlet wished her mother to act similar to Hecuba after the death of his father by not marrying his uncle and keeping this sorrow forever in her heart. In this soliloquy Shakespeare also takes the advantage of figures of speech to exaggerate Hamlet’s self criticism. The first metaphor deals with Hamlet comparing his dilemma and melancholy to a pregnancy.
This is revealed when he mentions “unpregnant of my cause” This statement by Hamlet can also be considered as foreshadowing in view of the fact that pregnancy is a period full of difficulty, however when its over, it brings joy and happiness. The other metaphor used by Hamlet is when he calls himself “pigeon livered” for not being brave enough to take revenge. The final metaphor deals with Hamlet introducing himself as an ass; when he says: “What an ass I am! ” this metaphor, in my opinion, is the climax of self criticism in this soliloquy.
There are, also two similes used in the closing part when Hamlet compares the way he conduct himself toward his situation to a “whore” and a “scullion”. Once finishing criticizing himself, Hamlet starts passing the judgment on his thoughts as he knows them as the root cause of his delay in taking revenge. This part of soliloquy, in my judgment, is a turning point in Hamlet’s character since it is at this stage that his personality alters from a head to a heart character. This fact can be clearly sensed as it is right after this soliloquy that he starts taking the first serious steps of revenging his uncle, Cladius.