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Act 2 Scene 2 Hamlet Soliloquy
Benny Freedmanon 29 January 2013
Transcript of Act 2 Scene 2 Hamlet Soliloquy
-Benny Freedman Lines 509-534 Translation Lines 535-543 Lines 544-550 Translation Translation Lines 551-567 Oh, 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 wanned,
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— For Hecuba!
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 damned 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' th' throat As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
'Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-livered 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!
If someone called me that I would have to take it, because I’m a weak and cowardly man - and if I wasn’t I would have fed the vultures with the intestines of that low-life king already. Remorseless, treacherous, sex-loving, kindless villain! O vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
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!
Oh, revenge! What an ass I am! I am so brave that I cannot even carry out the task of seeking revenge for my dead father, and all I can do is stand in the streets and curse like a whore. Damn it! About, my brain.—Hum, 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 proclaimed 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 do blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
T' 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. Oh, what a mean person I am. It is terrible that this actor can play a fictitious role with such authentic emotion. He forces his soul to believe these fake feelings, and they become real within the fantasy. He became pale, had real tears in his eyes, became overwhelmed, his voice breaking; all for the sake of his act, and all for nothing. For Hecuba! What does Hecuba even mean to him, or what does he mean to Hecuba, so much so that he would cry for her? Imagine if he had the real feelings that I do. He would drown the stage with tears, and hurt the ears of the people in the audience, with his shrieks of horrible words. The audience would be driven mad. But what do I, a dull and uncourageous rascal, do? I bottle up my emotions and don't even think about exacting revenge, and I can't even say anything - anything about how my father’s life was taken. Am I a coward? Does anyone think I’m a villain and can slap my face? Shave my beard and blow in my face? Pinch my nose and call me a liar? Translation I need to get my act together and think of an idea. I once heard that sometimes while watching a play about a guilty character, some scenes can effect a guilty person so much that it makes them confess their crimes. I’ll have the actors preform a play that resembles something like my fathers murder, and I’ll have them preform it for my uncle. I’ll watch my uncle and see if he becomes uncomfortable. If he flinches or turns pale I’ll know what to do. The ghost may be the devil, and has the power to disguise itself with pleasure. Maybe since I’m in such an emotional state I may be easily lured by his facade. He might abuse my sadness and damn me. I need more evidence than just the word of the ghost, because I’m not sure if I can trust it completely. The play will be the final determiner that may uncover my uncles guilt. Shakespeare creates a powerful soliloquy which exposes Hamlet’s emotions and, above all, reveals this dual-character of Hamlet. This soliloquy is a key soliloquy in the play, and the play would not be the same without it. This scene shows major character development in Hamlet. Shakespeare expresses Hamlet’s fear and passion for revenge, as well as his respect and doubt in the ghost of his father. Hamlet’s plan for uncovering Claudius’ guilt is devised in this scene as well. This is a key aspect of the soliloquy, and is a pivotal part of the play. Conclusion This soliloquy is a key moment in Hamlet’s character development. Shakespeare essentially creates a dual character for Hamlet: he shows Hamlet’s fear and passion for revenge, and love and doubt for the ghost of his father. At the beginning of the soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his amazement of how the actors in the play can create such real emotions towards “Hecuba,” even though they don’t really posses the true feelings. Hamlet wonders how the actors would act if they had the real emotional feelings that he does. Hamlet then expresses how he feels by giving examples of how the actors would act if they had his feelings (“He would drown the stage with tears” etc.). Hamlet expresses his true emotions through his fantasy of the actor acting them out. His description of how the actors would act are his actual feelings. After realizing his lack of visible emotion, Hamlet get frustrated with himself. He realizes that he hasn’t taken action or sought for revenge yet, and has only moped around and concealed his emotions. At this point in the soliloquy Hamlet starts doubting himself. He questions his ability to seek revenge, and expresses his fears of the dangers he would put himself in, which ultimately expresses his fear of death. He recognizes his inability of carry out any consequential action and calls himself a coward. Hamlet’s hatred for Claudius then escalates, and he starts expressing his passion for vengeance. This is clear when he says, “Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!” about Claudius. Hamlet admits his need for revenge, and gears his thoughts towards a plan. He devises a plan to put on a play that is similar to the scene of his father’s murder, and watch his uncle for a suspicious reaction. Hamlet said, “I’ll have these players Play something like the murder of my father Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks.”Hamlet devises this plan because he doesn’t fully believe in the ghost. He seriously doubts that the ghost is a real representation of his father, and needs to get conclusive evidence of his uncle’s guilt before he exacts revenge. This shows his lack of faith in his father’s ghost. Hamlet even goes as far as to say that the ghost is possibly the devil in disguise. He thinks that the ghost could be the devil, and is trying to lure him in and manipulate him. He completely doubts his faith in the ghost at this point in the soliloquy. He decides that he will execute his plan of putting on the play for Claudius, in order to get concrete evidence of his guilt. Analysis