A critical appreciation of Hamlet’s final soliloquy
Hamlet’s final soliloquy comes just after he has spoken with the Captain, who has informed him that Fortinbras is set to fight for “a little patch of ground”, that is completely worthless except for the “name” that comes with it. All in an attempt to try and reclaim his father’s honour. As we parallel the two sons; Hamlet and Fortinbras, there is a clear contrast in the actions of revenge that they both take. This causes Hamlet to think about what he has been doing, or not been doing more appropriately, this is the key to his soliloquy.


In Hamlet’s final soliloquy we see a distinct alteration in his tone, in comparison to all of the other soliloquy’s, especially the ‘Hecuba speech’, where Hamlet tore into himself for his lack of action. Hamlet is furious for being a “pigeon-livered” “rogue”, who has all “motive and the cue for passion” to kill Claudius yet does nothing. Whereas the ‘player king’ who is merely acting shows more sadness and emotion than Hamlet. Here we do not see this anger, self-hatred and disappointment, it is much more contemplative. Hamlet is finally realising and coming to terms with what he has been doing wrong. He now understands that he has been “thinking too precisely”, and ponders whether it is merely the “three parts coward” that is holding him back from action. Hamlet sees that there is every reason in the world to avenge his father’s death and his “mother stained”, he has “will and strength, and means”, yet despite all this Claudius still lives. In the Hecuba soliloquy the words were very disjointed. There were many hard sounding words, which enabled Hamlet to ‘spit them out’ in disgust; “what a rogue and peasant slave am I”. In this sentence there has even been inversion to put direct emphasis on the “I” to show Hamlet’s disgrace at himself. Hamlet shows his mood and feelings in the words, he even breaks away from the metre of iambic pentameter to further enhance his amazement that the player king could be so distressed “For Hecuba!” Even the punctuation expresses his anger; there are numerous exclamation marks and question marks, as he cannot believe his “monstrous” lack of revenge. However in this soliloquy there is only one exclamation mark as Hamlet suddenly understands what he should have been doing; “spur my dull revenge”. Hamlet is saying that his revenge has been boring; “dull”. One would not consider this to be a word used with revenge, and neither does Hamlet. Fortinbras is the reason Hamlet re-assesses his situation in a calm but critical way.


Hamlet says how animals only “sleep and feed” but to be a “man” there is much more that needs to be done. There is an almost play on his own manliness as he re-adjusts himself, but without the violence of words.


The recurring theme of disease is brought in again in reference to the gift that we have been given, that should not “fust in us unused”.


Throughout this soliloquy there are soft sounds internalising it, showing Hamlet’s altered way of thinking. There are prolonged vowel sounds; ‘oo’ and ‘ee’, instead of sharp, abrupt endings. This brings a very gentle, calm air to the speech, “”to sleep and feed” “Go…tomb enough…Oh”. This is a distinct difference to the other soliloquies, especially the ‘player king’ speech.


“I have cause, and will, and strength, and means”; Hamlet is weighing up the reasons why he should have acted upon his father’s murder, and there is a clear ‘list’ quality to this line. I think that Shakespeare has purposely used punctuation to prolong the words, and also the repetition of and; “and will, and strength, and means” this makes it a long almost tedious line as the list goes on. I think this is a deliberate action to emphasise the amount of reasons and chances Hamlet has been given to avenge Claudius and that he has not taken.


Hamlet uses varied imagery in this soliloquy to describe his actions and to emphasise certain things. Hamlet’s previous speeches have been packed with imagery, and even the last ‘Hecuba’ soliloquy used imagery of the ‘devil’.


There is some imagery of animals and beasts in this speech, as Hamlet