Hamlet's Synopsis, Analysis, and All Seven Soliloquies

Updated on March 7, 2018

Background

The Tragical History Of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or, as it's more simply known, Hamlet, is a play that holds immense importance in English literature.

This drama was written by William Shakespeare between 1599 and 1601. The plot is set in the country of Denmark, and the main protagonist is Prince Hamlet.

Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest drama. It is still considered a pioneer in English literature. Several films and plays have been made as adaptations featuring many renowned actors.

Synopsis

Hamlet is the prince of Denmark. He is abroad, studying in Germany, when his father, the king, dies. He is summoned back to Denmark in order to attend his father's funeral.

Already drowning in grief, Hamlet becomes even more upset by the fact that his mother has married his uncle—the brother of her recently departed husband.

Hamlet does not think she mourned his father for a reasonable amount of time before marrying again, and the hasty marriage also means that his uncle, now King Claudius, sits upon the throne rather than himself. Hamlet suspects foul play.

One night, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, who tells him that his death was not natural. Rather he was killed, and says his death was a "foul and most unnatural murder."

The ghost of Hamlet's father tells Prince Hamlet that he was murdered by his own brother, King Claudius, who now holds his throne and is even married to his wife. He commands Hamlet to seek revenge for his dead father's murder. Hamlet swears to fulfill his revenge and to kill King Claudius.

But later, Hamlet faces a dilemma. Can he trust the ghost? Is the vision of a spirit enough reason to kill his uncle, the king?

Later in Shakespeare's great literary work, Hamlet toys with many options to escape his unhappy situation, including suicide.

The play includes many philosophical situations and heart-wrenching scenes. This drama is worth reading for any person interested—even a little bit—in literary work, Shakespeare, drama, or just an amazing piece of writing.

Hamlet's Soliloquies

From time to time in the play, Hamlet delivers a soliloquy, or a speech that the audience can hear, but the other characters cannot. These speeches let us know what Hamlet is thinking but not saying, and there are seven soliloquies in all.

If you are not familiar with what a soliloquy is, read "What is a Soliloquy?" The article provides a definition of a soliloquy, discusses the soliloquy's purpose and why they're important, and provides examples, including a video, for better understanding.

To really understand the plot development of Hamlet, one needs to understand the actual meaning and concept of each of Hamlet's soliloquies. Since the text of that era is hard to understand for today's students, I made seven different articles for each soliloquy, so you could understand them easily. These articles each contain the original text of the soliloquy, as well as a summary and an explanation of that soliloquy.

In these seven soliloquies, Hamlet shares his inner feelings, thoughts, and plans for the future. These soliloquies are the pivotal pillars of the drama and are still considered some of Shakespeare's most brilliant writing. You will likely recognize lines, such as the famous "To be or not to be..." Without reading these seven soliloquies, one cannot enjoy the true experience of this amazing drama.

Links to Full Text and Summaries

1. Hamlet's First Soliloquy

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!... (Act 1, Scene 2)

2. Hamlet's Second Soliloquy

O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! — Hold, my heart...
(Act 1, Scene 5)

3. Hamlet's Third Soliloquy

Ay, so, God b' wi' ye!
Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!...
(Act 2, Scene 2)

4. Hamlet's Fourth Soliloquy (to be or not to be)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?... (Act 3, Scene 1)

5. Hamlet's Fifth Soliloquy

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world...
Soft! now to my mother...
Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none... (Act 3, Scene 2)

6. Hamlet's Sixth Soliloquy

Now might I do it pat now he is praying,
And now I'll do it, and so he goes to heaven.
And so am I revenged, that would be scanned... (Act 3, Scene 3)

7. Hamlet's Seventh Soliloquy

How all occasions do inform against me
And spur my dull revenge!...
(Act 4, Scene 4)

Which Soliloquy Is Your Favourite Soliloquy?

See results

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Rafaqat Bano 

        7 months ago

        thank you for the informative writing. It would be nicer if all the soliloquies would be given to read out with critical analysis .

      • profile image

        azad 

        16 months ago

        nice effort

      • profile image

        DR. DINESH 

        18 months ago

        .I SALUTE YOU FOR THE YEOMAN'N SERVICE YOU RENDER BY PROVIDING THE PRECIOUS GUIDE LINES IN LITERATURE .IT IS A GODLY ATTRIBUTE TO GIVE. TAKING TAKES NO TIME BUT GIVING CALLS FOR GUTS- SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN ABUNDANCE.

      • profile image

        suhail 

        19 months ago

        where is explanation of third soliloquy

      • profile image

        jolene 

        20 months ago

        He is not real. if he was he would be an embodiment of the whole play. a meta-physical character.

      • profile image

        hk 

        23 months ago

        very usefull

      • profile image

        NUSRAT MULTAN 03041015852 

        2 years ago

        useful master piece 4 english readers

      • profile image

        Julian Lin 

        3 years ago

        My favorite is the seventh. It is very interesting as Hamlet sees Fortinbras to fight for a small and unimportant land.

      • profile image

        doll 

        3 years ago

        it is helpful for me

      • profile image

        Dan Chadders 

        4 years ago

        this article just about covers the Hamlet story for me: http://www.theatrebreaks.com/blog/william-shakespe...

      • profile image

        wafa Algerien student 

        5 years ago

        understand Shekespear's writing is amazing...thanks for help

      • profile image

        hina 

        6 years ago

        unparrallel effort

      • Hunbbel Meer profile imageAUTHOR

        Syed Hunbbel Meer 

        7 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

        Thank you Sueswan. That was one of those things that made Shakespeare's writing a pioneer for English literature - The Generalizing Tendency.

        You can relate to it. Everybody can relate to it, that is why this soliloquy is that much famous. I too would not like to suicide because the other side is not definite and clear, and that is why Hamlet dropped the idea. See, we can relate to the character's thought. It is amazing.

      • profile image

        Sueswan 

        7 years ago

        Very interesting and informative,

        "What if we do not sleep in the death for eternity? What if we just cease to sleep and be restless for eternity?"

        I never would consider suicide because I always thought who knows if it would be better on the other side.

        I am not a fan of Shakespeare because I never understood his writings.

        This hub has given me the understanding that I did not have.

      • Hunbbel Meer profile imageAUTHOR

        Syed Hunbbel Meer 

        7 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

        @Paradise7: I would have answered the same :)

        The Fourth and the Seventh soliloquy just stands apart for me. They are marvellous!

      • Paradise7 profile image

        Paradise7 

        7 years ago from Upstate New York

        Actually it was a tie between the 4th and 7th soliloquies, for me.

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