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Analysis of Hamlet's First Monologue (O That This Too Too Solid Flesh Would Melt)
Transcript of Analysis of Hamlet's First Monologue (O That This Too Too Solid Flesh Would Melt)
Act I Scene II: Hamlet
Background Before the Soliloquy
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Compares the marriage of Claudius and his mother (who was the wife of Claudius' brother) to that of Henry VIII who married Catherine of Aragon (the wife of Arthur, who was Henry's brother).
This makes a favourable impression of the reign of Queen Elizabeth at that time while attacking the wrong marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine and Mary's reign (who was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine) by emphasizing the wickedness of a widow marrying her husband's brother.
A recurring theme within the play of Hamlet where long speeches would suddenly be interrupted. (also seen at the end of "To Be or Not To Be")
Hamlet is actually saying all this to himself in a large empty room and not just voicing it out in his head.
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
At first, Hamlet is describing the world as "an unweeded garden" (the world is corrupt and in a mess, metaphor).
Starts to compare his father to his uncle with the comparison of Hyperion (powerful titan who's called the Lord of Light) to a satyr (a half man half goat creature).
Then starts to despise his mother's turn from loving his father so much to suddenly being married to Claudius.
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
First despises his mother by stating that the shoes his mum wore to the funeral of his father had barely looked old when she wore them for her marriage to Claudius.
Apostrophe - Addressing some personification that is not present
Compares the crying of Niobe to his mother's (allusion).
Wonders how his mum married someone so different from his father that quickly (Claudius).
Makes a comparison of his father and uncle to himself and Hercules.
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Solid flesh would melt, indicating that he wanted to disappear or die.
Everlasting refers to God, and canon refers to a law against self-slaughter or suicide.
Hamlet describes the world as weary, stale, flat and unprofitable.
We can therefore infer that Hamlet desires the option of suicide yet cannot act upon it due to it being forbidden by the religion.
Who the heck is this Niobe dude?
In Greek mythology, Niobe is a famous character who conceived fourteen children and boasted about it to Leto who only had Artemis and Apollo. Hating such arrogance from Niobe, Leto sent Artemis and Apollo to kill all of her children. After losing all of her children, she turned to stone on Mt. Sisyphus whilst mourning for her loss.
Hamlet is comparing the bountiful mourning of his mother to that of Niobe yet his mother eventually remarried within a month, mocking his mother through these actions
Before the soliloquy, Hamlet was going through a seemingly unpleasant conversation with his mother and Claudius and being asked to remain in Denmark as opposed to continuing his studies in Wittenberg (which was against his wishes).
1. "Hamlet Soliloquy Too Too Solid Flesh with Commentary." Hamlet Soliloquy Too Too Solid Flesh with Commentary. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
2. "Hamlet: Important Quotations Explained." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.
3. Zirinsky, Robert. "A Commentary on and Analysis of Hamlet's First Soliloquy." Yahoo Contributor Network. Yahoo Voices, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
4. "William Shakespeare – Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2." Poetry Genius. Poetry Genius, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
5. "Quizlet." Literary Devices and Hamlet Flashcards. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
6. "Hamlet: Themes, Motifs & Symbols." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
Hyperion vs Satyr (Allusion)
Myth of Niobe
Henry VIII & Catherine of Aragon Allusion
: Generally it's one that is sorrowful, miserable, confused and frustrated.
: Confusion, frustration and spiteful.
: To introduce a bit about the main character of the play, Hamlet.
Hamlet vs The World
Hamlet vs Himself
Hamlet vs Gertrude (his mum)
Hamlet vs Claudius
Relation to Motifs:
: "Frailty, thy name is woman"
: "With such dexterity to incestuous sheets"
: "It is not nor it cannot come to good"
: Information mentioned about how Hamlet views the world could be similar to how the author (Shakespeare) viewed the world whilst writing the play.
: Is corrupt and often cases of the marrying of one's a husband's wife to the husband's brother (aka Henry VIII & Catherine)
No Real Symbolism
Relation to Themes:
The Impossibility of Certainty: "Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle"
The Complexity of Action: "But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue."
The Mystery of Death: "His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!"
The Nation as a Diseased Body: "Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden"