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Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I?

Hamlet Soliloquy #2
by

Brooklyn Barber

on 6 November 2012

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Transcript of Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I?

O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Soliloquy #2 In this soliloquy Hamlet shows a contrast from the first soliloquy, but he demonstrates his true desires and feelings. Previously, we see Hamlet as a melancholy and idle character, who in his grief is willingly to sit by and simply complain about how the universe has wronged him. In this soliloquy he is portrayed as a sensible, loyal and rational being who uses these qualities to his advantage in order to avenge his father. Meaning of the soliloquy in context of the play Hamlet is talking about how he wishes that he could be like the actors who can bring false emotion to their face that is so convincing that it evokes emotion in other people. For Hecuba!
What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn’d defeat was made. Am I a coward? Ay, so, God buy to you. Now I am alone.
O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
It is not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
Ha! ‘Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave’s offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion! Fie upon’t! foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim’d their malefactions; For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I’ll observe his looks;
I’ll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. the play ‘s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have grounds
More relative than this: Hamlet portrays himself as deep and eloquent in speech, while he continues to be a very introverted person surrounding his feelings and almost takes solace in the actor as he can react to such events seemingly easily, where as Hamlet cannot. Hamlet is questioning what the actor's real reaction would be had he the personal connection. It would probably be a violent reaction, however it could be justified as an outburst because of the situation. These lines are contrasting from the previous lines as he is unable to react violently, as it is treason to rebel against the king, instead takes a melancholy tone and view on himself. He sees himself as being withdrawn from the situation, and he wants to make it right, but at the same time, he doesn't want to be in the middle of it. Hamlet is enraged that he cannot uphold his loyalty to his own father as it would be treason against a faulty king. He views himself as lacking courage and he doubts his actions even though they are in his best interest. Hamlet feels betrayed and insulted by his uncle killing his father and then marrying his mother, and he doesn't know if he can fix it. Hamlet shows that he does not like his uncle and is incredibly offended by him and his actions. Hamlet feels that he is brave and he should avenge his father's death, he is prompted by heaven and hell, his father's spirit, to do so. However, the only thing he can do is speak, a seemingly useless action against such offenses. Hamlet is angry that he must keep quiet about this injustice to his father, even though he has other worldly forces prompting him to seek revenge. He begins to devise a scheme in which a play will go on that re-enacts a murder parallel to his father's murder, thus causing his uncle to show his true feelings and his wrong doings through the emotion the play will bring to the surface. Hamlet realizes his uncle will not speak out loud his actions, however his emotions and facial expressions will give him away. Hamlet is set to follow this course of action in order to uncover whether his father really was murdered. Hamlet is clever and figures out a plan to catch his uncle's emotions without actually having to do anything himself. Hamlet understands that he is grieving, and is worried that the spirit who came to speak to him is tricking him by pretending to be his beloved father, Hamlet knows he is vulnerable at this time in his life and is weary of what he has been told. Hamlet resolves to watch the king during the play to find out the truth, which concludes Hamlet's soliloquy. This soliloquy shows Hamlet's ability to devise a plan based upon concrete facts and a little bit of intuition. Conclusion Theme: Inherited Sin and Corruption Theme: Son Seeking Revenge Theme: Deception Theme: Serpentine Satan Theme: Loyalty Theme: Empty Existence Theme: The Ambiguous Spirit World Theme: Ambition Hamlet is a very emotional and sensitive person, he just has trouble showing it outwardly. Hamlet puts himself down because he feels helpless to avenging his fathers death, and he feels as if his not taking action is being disloyal to his father's memory. He insults his uncle, calling him a villain and portraying him as being evil. Hamlet asks himself whether the apparition he has seen is really his father, or in fact the devil taking advantage of his grievous and melancholy state. He realizes he is in a vulnerable spot and decides to watch for his uncle's reaction to the murder scene before he actually acts. He feels as though he should take this insult as he has not tried to counter it or stand up for himself, nonetheless, he still curses Claudius. Hamlet is portrayed as being educated and intelligent, and shows an in depth understanding of human emotion. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann’d,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears.
Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,And can say nothing; no, not for a king, Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn’d defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face,
Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i’ the throat
As deep as to the lungs- who does me this?
Ha! ‘Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion! Fie upon’t! Foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim’d their malefactions.
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ I’ll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I’ll observe his looks;
I’ll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have grounds
More relative than this: the play ‘s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. Allusion (reference to the story of Hecuba) Hyperbole Antithesis Synecdoche Alliteration Alliteration Assonance Antithesis Simile Metaphor Alliteration This soliloquy differs from many of Hamlet's others as he presents himself to be very sane and reflective. He realizes his limits and where he could have been lead astray by his own emotions, demonstrating his rationalization. He makes a firm decision which will help him choose his path, showing him to be sensible. Hamlet is very organized and focused throughout this soliloquy, insisting on being loyal to his father. Ultimately, Hamlet uses all of these qualities to help him devise a plan to avenge his father's death. Balance Balance Rhyming couplet Allusion (religious/biblical reference) Personification Rhetorical question Anaphora Hamlet
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