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Literary Techniques Applied in Hamlet’s Soliloquy Essay

Literary Techniques Applied in Hamlet’s Soliloquy Essay
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Shakespeare uses a diverse form of literary elements in all his plays. In that case, I would be forced to write an extremely lengthy paper in order to highlight all literary aspects he used in Hamlet’s Soliloquy, which would by far exceed the limit allowed in this essay. I can, however, illustrate several of them. Each aspect illustrated below has been drawn from Hamlet’s poem in Act III, scene 1 “To be or not to be”. Hamlet, in this soliloquy, debates the approach towards life and death (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). The speech is extremely derogative and suicidal, and he appears to be engaged in a battle within him over whether to live or take his own life. He appears to be weighing his options. “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to die, to sleep; to sleep perchance to dream” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). Hamlet describes life as rigorous and hard, filled with trials and heartache. He contrasts this with death which he perceives as calm and peaceful without the worries of this life. ‘Calm waters’ of death seem to appeal to him as opposed to the complex depths of life. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss the manner in which language and literal techniques have been applied in the poem as well as how they have influenced the entirety of my perception of it.

One literary tool applied by Shakespeare in Hamlet’s ‘To be or Not to be’ soliloquy is the use of metaphors. For example, in line 58 Hamlet says, “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. This is the first metaphor in the soliloquy, which in my view Hamlet infers to the trials of destiny. This is stated in the counter of the metaphor in line 59 where Hamlet states, “Or to take arms against a sea of trouble.” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). This metaphor is stated in direct opposition to line 58 and suggests fighting back against the issues and obstacles that are encountered in life (Lakoff & Turner, 2009, p.24). Combined, it is evident that Hamlet is debating whether it is better to accept life as it is or to refuse to succumb. Other metaphors appearing in the soliloquy include the statement, “virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it”. Hamlet seems to be saying here that regardless of how much we resist, man’s innate inclination towards evil will reveal itself. The meaning of the word ‘inoculate’ is to graft a plant. Therefore, Hamlet implies that virtue can never surpass man’s nature, which is evil.

In addition to this, Shakespeare has also applied rhetorical questions as a literal technique in the poem. Rhetorical questions in literature challenge the reader while simultaneously channeling his full attention towards the context. In the beginning, Hamlet poses a defining question, one that seems unanswerable to him at that point. As Hamlet struggles to answer his question, ‘to be or not to be?’ the reader genuinely feels Hamlet’s sorrow. At the end of the poem, Hamlet’s question that he has attempted to answer is still unresolved. Although Hamlet does not take his life, the reader like Hamlet is engaged and similarly does not have the answer to the question. In an attempt to answer this overriding question, Hamlet presents several other rhetorical questions, which only add to his inner confusion. 

Shakespeare has also applied synecdoche as a literary tool, which serves to simplify various connections that Hamlet makes in the poem. This allows Hamlet to move from point to point in a disorganized manner. This literary device, through which a small part of an idea is made a representative of the whole, appears severally in the poem. For example, Hamlet describes death as a state in which a person “shuffles off this mortal coil,” or where he states, “The natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. ‘Flesh’ and ‘Mortal coil’ refer to the physical qualities of a person. This apparent disintegration of human-like qualities is meant to infer to termination of life altogether.  Listing of complaints similarly refers to the greater wrongs of various ideas or institutions such as love, the government, and criminals, while referring to one specific evil.

Shakespeare applies a number of literary devices in order to fully convey Hamlet’s deep pondering and confusion, in his sanity, and as well as his madness. From the soliloquy, Hamlet has been unable and unwilling to give an answer to his most threatening query: whether to continue living in misery or to take his own life in uncertainty. Hamlet is conceivably among the most complicated personas in English literature. The author, Shakespeare, exposes so many layers of Hamlet’s personality that it is nearly impossible to be definite of who Hamlet actually is.  My final sentiment on the poem is that it is confusing on purpose. The author, Shakespeare, has applied literary devices such as synecdoche, rhetorical questions, and metaphors to capture Hamlet’s complicated character and confusion. This engages the reader in the poem’s context and serves to make this soliloquy as relevant to ordinary life as it is in the story.

Shakespeare uses a diverse form of literary elements in all his plays. In that case, I would be forced to write an extremely lengthy paper in order to highlight all literary aspects he used in Hamlet’s Soliloquy, which would by far exceed the limit allowed in this essay.  I can, however, illustrate several of them. Each aspect illustrated below has been drawn from Hamlet’s poem in Act III, scene 1 “To be or not to be”. Hamlet, in this soliloquy, debates the approach towards life and death (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). The speech is extremely derogative and suicidal, and he appears to be engaged in a battle within him over whether to live or take his own life. He appears to be weighing his options. “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to die, to sleep; to sleep perchance to dream” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). Hamlet describes life as rigorous and hard, filled with trials and heartache. He contrasts this with death which he perceives as calm and peaceful without the worries of this life. ‘Calm waters’ of death seem to appeal to him as opposed to the complex depths of life. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss the manner in which language and literal techniques have been applied in the poem as well as how they have influenced the entirety of my perception of it.

One literary tool applied by Shakespeare in Hamlet’s ‘To be or Not to be’ soliloquy is the use of metaphors. For example, in line 58 Hamlet says, “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. This is the first metaphor in the soliloquy, which in my view Hamlet infers to the trials of destiny. This is stated in the counter of the metaphor in line 59 where Hamlet states, “Or to take arms against a sea of trouble.” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). This metaphor is stated in direct opposition to line 58 and suggests fighting back against the issues and obstacles that are encountered in life (Lakoff & Turner, 2009, p.24). Combined, it is evident that Hamlet is debating whether it is better to accept life as it is or to refuse to succumb. Other metaphors appearing in the soliloquy include the statement, “virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it”. Hamlet seems to be saying here that regardless of how much we resist, man’s innate inclination towards evil will reveal itself. The meaning of the word ‘inoculate’ is to graft a plant. Therefore, Hamlet implies that virtue can never surpass man’s nature, which is evil.

In addition to this, Shakespeare has also applied rhetorical questions as a literal technique in the poem. Rhetorical questions in literature challenge the reader while simultaneously channeling his full attention towards the context. In the beginning, Hamlet poses a defining question, one that seems unanswerable to him at that point. As Hamlet struggles to answer his question, ‘to be or not to be?’ the reader genuinely feels Hamlet’s sorrow. At the end of the poem, Hamlet’s question that he has attempted to answer is still unresolved. Although Hamlet does not take his life, the reader like Hamlet is engaged and similarly does not have the answer to the question. In an attempt to answer this overriding question, Hamlet presents several other rhetorical questions, which only add to his inner confusion. 

Shakespeare has also applied synecdoche as a literary tool, which serves to simplify various connections that Hamlet makes in the poem. This allows Hamlet to move from point to point in a disorganized manner. This literary device, through which a small part of an idea is made a representative of the whole, appears severally in the poem. For example, Hamlet describes death as a state in which a person “shuffles off this mortal coil,” or where he states, “The natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. ‘Flesh’ and ‘Mortal coil’ refer to the physical qualities of a person. This apparent disintegration of human-like qualities is meant to infer to termination of life altogether.  Listing of complaints similarly refers to the greater wrongs of various ideas or institutions such as love, the government, and criminals, while referring to one specific evil.

Shakespeare applies a number of literary devices in order to fully convey Hamlet’s deep pondering and confusion, in his sanity, and as well as his madness. From the soliloquy, Hamlet has been unable and unwilling to give an answer to his most threatening query: whether to continue living in misery or to take his own life in uncertainty. Hamlet is conceivably among the most complicated personas in English literature. The author, Shakespeare, exposes so many layers of Hamlet’s personality that it is nearly impossible to be definite of who Hamlet actually is.  My final sentiment on the poem is that it is confusing on purpose. The author, Shakespeare, has applied literary devices such as synecdoche, rhetorical questions, and metaphors to capture Hamlet’s complicated character and confusion. This engages the reader in the poem’s context and serves to make this soliloquy as relevant to ordinary life as it is in the story.

Shakespeare uses a diverse form of literary elements in all his plays. In that case, I would be forced to write an extremely lengthy paper in order to highlight all literary aspects he used in Hamlet’s Soliloquy, which would by far exceed the limit allowed in this essay.  I can, however, illustrate several of them. Each aspect illustrated below has been drawn from Hamlet’s poem in Act III, scene 1 “To be or not to be”. Hamlet, in this soliloquy, debates the approach towards life and death (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). The speech is extremely derogative and suicidal, and he appears to be engaged in a battle within him over whether to live or take his own life. He appears to be weighing his options. “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to die, to sleep; to sleep perchance to dream” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). Hamlet describes life as rigorous and hard, filled with trials and heartache. He contrasts this with death which he perceives as calm and peaceful without the worries of this life. ‘Calm waters’ of death seem to appeal to him as opposed to the complex depths of life. The main purpose of this paper is to discuss the manner in which language and literal techniques have been applied in the poem as well as how they have influenced the entirety of my perception of it.

One literary tool applied by Shakespeare in Hamlet’s ‘To be or Not to be’ soliloquy is the use of metaphors. For example, in line 58 Hamlet says, “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. This is the first metaphor in the soliloquy, which in my view Hamlet infers to the trials of destiny. This is stated in the counter of the metaphor in line 59 where Hamlet states, “Or to take arms against a sea of trouble.” (Shakespeare & Laurel, 2003). This metaphor is stated in direct opposition to line 58 and suggests fighting back against the issues and obstacles that are encountered in life (Lakoff & Turner, 2009, p.24). Combined, it is evident that Hamlet is debating whether it is better to accept life as it is or to refuse to succumb. Other metaphors appearing in the soliloquy include the statement, “virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it”. Hamlet seems to be saying here that regardless of how much we resist, man’s innate inclination towards evil will reveal itself. The meaning of the word ‘inoculate’ is to graft a plant. Therefore, Hamlet implies that virtue can never surpass man’s nature, which is evil.

In addition to this, Shakespeare has also applied rhetorical questions as a literal technique in the poem. Rhetorical questions in literature challenge the reader while simultaneously channeling his full attention towards the context. In the beginning, Hamlet poses a defining question, one that seems unanswerable to him at that point. As Hamlet struggles to answer his question, ‘to be or not to be?’ the reader genuinely feels Hamlet’s sorrow. At the end of the poem, Hamlet’s question that he has attempted to answer is still unresolved. Although Hamlet does not take his life, the reader like Hamlet is engaged and similarly does not have the answer to the question. In an attempt to answer this overriding question, Hamlet presents several other rhetorical questions, which only add to his inner confusion. 

Shakespeare has also applied synecdoche as a literary tool, which serves to simplify various connections that Hamlet makes in the poem. This allows Hamlet to move from point to point in a disorganized manner. This literary device, through which a small part of an idea is made a representative of the whole, appears severally in the poem. For example, Hamlet describes death as a state in which a person “shuffles off this mortal coil,” or where he states, “The natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. ‘Flesh’ and ‘Mortal coil’ refer to the physical qualities of a person. This apparent disintegration of human-like qualities is meant to infer to termination of life altogether. Listing of complaints similarly refers to the greater wrongs of various ideas or institutions such as love, the government, and criminals, while referring to one specific evil.

Shakespeare applies a number of literary devices in order to fully convey Hamlet’s deep pondering and confusion, in his sanity, and as well as his madness. From the soliloquy, Hamlet has been unable and unwilling to give an answer to his most threatening query: whether to continue living in misery or to take his own life in uncertainty. Hamlet is conceivably among the most complicated personas in English literature. The author, Shakespeare, exposes so many layers of Hamlet’s personality that it is nearly impossible to be definite of who Hamlet actually is.  My final sentiment on the poem is that it is confusing on purpose. The author, Shakespeare, has applied literary devices such as synecdoche, rhetorical questions, and metaphors to capture Hamlet’s complicated character and confusion. This engages the reader in the poem’s context and serves to make this soliloquy as relevant to ordinary life as it is in the story.

References:

Lakoff, G., & Turner, M. (2009). More than cool reason: A field guide to poetic metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shakespeare, W., & Laurel, A. (2003). Hamlet Paperback Book. Irvine: Saddleback Educational Pub.