Hamlet's Second Soliloquy
Following is the original text of Hamlet's second soliloquy, followed by a summary to help you understand.
Act 1, Scene 5
O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! — Hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. — Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven! —
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables, — meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least, I am sure, it may be so in Denmark
Summary and Analysis
Hamlet’s second soliloquy occurs right after the ghost of the dead King, Hamlet’s father, leaves, having charged Hamlet with the duty of taking revenge upon his murderer:
“foul and most unnatural murder”
The ghost of the dead king tells Hamlet that as he slept in his garden, a villain poured poison into his ear. The ghost reveals the murderer to Hamlet by saying:
“The serpent that did sting thy father’s life / Now wears his crown”
This reveals the fact that King Claudius is the real murderer of Hamlet's dead father. Hamlet is stunned by the revelation and echoes of the Ghost’s words asking him to remember it.
This soliloquy reveals an important secret to Hamlet and carries his rage and grief. He is shocked, stunned, and in great grief upon realizing that his father was rather murdered by Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet now refers to his mother as the “most pernicious woman” and to his uncle as a “villain”, a “smiling damned villain”. At the end of the soliloquy, Hamlet swears to remember and obey the ghost.
This soliloquy holds immense importance and is one of the pivotal pillars in Act 1.
cmarks on July 24, 2019:
I thought it would have line by line
Safaa on April 15, 2019:
I wanna them be explained line by line
Rabia on March 04, 2019:
Great information , everything is highlighted in this summary
Read More From Owlcation
Sayma on November 01, 2018:
Thank you so much
Mo on January 11, 2018:
Thanks a lot
James Z. on March 07, 2017:
This is Act 1 Scene 2
Rahma on March 06, 2017:
Thanks a ton!
I have my exams coming, and this helped a lot.
Amina Ahmed on October 28, 2016:
It's just helpful.
Rachel on November 16, 2015:
In my version of the play, at the end is says,
"So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
I have sworn't.
I'm not sure whether this was in the original or not, but this statement adds to the theme of revenge that is carried throughout the play.
Tiki M.A in Eng on May 24, 2015:
Its too much helpful to understand the whole play in brief.Thanks
Andy Cotts on June 15, 2014:
Yo much thanks
youg thugge on March 18, 2014:
this helped me pass my paper
Syed Hunbbel Meer (author) from Karachi, Pakistan. on August 14, 2011:
@Leni sands. Thank you for your comment. This series will contain all SEVEN SOLILOQUIES BY HAMLET. I hope you will like them all :)
Leni Sands from UK on August 14, 2011:
Another excellent breakdown of the text. I hope to see more of these.