Hamlet - Act 1, Scene Ii - Hamlet's First Soliloquy Close Analysis

Hamlet’s first soliloquy in the play, in Act I, scene ii, is a passionate passage that contrasts strongly to the fake, artificial dialogue that he and his uncle Claudius exchange throughout the play. Here Hamlet reveals his depression and despair in an outpouring of disgust and sorrow, explaining how his life seems useless to him, after his father dies and his mother marries his uncle.

The soliloquy opens with an exclamation from Hamlet that he wishes his ‘too too solid flesh’ to ‘melt and thaw’ into nothingness, hoping that if he dies, then he would be cleansed and purified. He wants to break out of his own confining flesh. Shakespeare juxtaposes this with his use of ‘Everlasting’ when discussing God, the permanence of being everlasting contrasting against the concept of being melted into dew. In that same sentence, Shakespeare also makes reference to the war that is, and will go on, with ‘fixed his canon’, while explaining God’s hate of those who commit suicide.

The copious listing of ‘weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’ creates a sense of mundane droning, emphasising Hamlet’s view on the world. This useless world is then referred to as a garden, a recurring motif in the play, that is ‘unweeded’, grown ‘to seed, things rank and gross and nature’. This extended metaphor of the world as a garden could be a reference to the concept of Humanism, where people control their own decisions, and the world requires tending to, just as a garden does. Here, Hamlet is proclaiming that his world is not   being tended to correctly, and it is growing wild. This same lack of order that is in his world is reflected in his repeated use of the hyphen, ‘But two months dead – nay not so much, not two –’. This also mirrors his disjointed mind, foreshadowing his descent into madness.

Shakespeare also uses this soliloquy to paint an idealistic view of Hamlet’s father, likening him to the sun-god Hyperion who would do absolutely anything, including interfere with heaven, to...