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Hamlet's Soliloquy: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (2.2)


Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (520)
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, (530)
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, (540)
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?
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be

But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall (550)
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!
O, vengeance!
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, (560)
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; (570)
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.

Continue to Soliloquy Commentary


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On Claudius and the Dumb-Show

"The moment the dumb-show is over, [Claudius] realizes that Hamlet knows the whole truth. The action of the dumb-show is too like the crime which he has himself committed to leave doubt upon that score. If there were any such doubt, the drift of Hamlet's apparently mad talk during the spoken play following would dispel it. And Rosencrantz and Polonius have already mentioned Hamlet's joy at the arrival of the players, his command that they shall give a play, and his desire that the King and Queen shall witness it." William Witherle Lawrence. Read on...

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Did You Know? ... "To lie in the throat was worse than to lie from the lips. Staunton on ii. H. IV. i. 2, quotes from a curious old Italian treatise on War and the Duello a passage in which the different gradations of giving the lie are enumerated as the simple "Thou liest"; then, "Thou liest in the throat"; "Thou liest in the throat like a rogue; Thou liest in the throat like a rogue as thou art," the last being an insult which could not be passed by without a challenge to combat." Kenneth Deighton. (From his edition of Twelfth Night. Allman & Son.)


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Soliloquy Analysis: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!... (2.2)
Soliloquy Analysis: To be, or not to be... (3.1)
Soliloquy Analysis: Tis now the very witching time of night... (3.2)
Soliloquy Analysis: Now might I do it pat... (3.3)
Soliloquy Analysis: How all occasions do inform against me... (4.4)

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