May 10, 2011
1. Exigence — What needs doing at this point? In other words, what is compelling Hamlet to speak at this moment in the play?
I think that Hamlet is just frustrated and confused at this point. He’s faced with “to be or not to be.” Should he act on what he feels (and what the ghost wants from him), or should he do nothing? Should he take “fortune” in his own hands, or be a victim of fate? I think this speech is very important to the play because it shows the audience, or reader, that he isn’t crazy at this point. He’s thinking coherent thoughts and is very much in reality-even if he doesn’t want to be.
2. Audience – The audience is comprised of people who can in some way act on this exigence. Who is Hamlet’s primary audience and how does that influence his choices? Who is Hamlet’s secondary audience and how does that influence his choices? [Hint: they are not on the stage]
I don’t know if I’m answering this question correctly but I think Hamlet’s audience is himself, maybe? or his two “sides?” Let me explain. If we are saying he is, indeed, crazy (In this case, I am.), then I think that Hamlets other part of himself (the crazy part) is the audience. *Ponders in frustration* This is hard to explain! I’m guess what I’m trying to say is that Hamlet is, in a way, watching himself. This other part is toying with his sane mind, kind of playing with the reality of the situation and figments of his own imagination. So, he’s just really confused and doesn’t know what to do (or think). The other part is his sane mind. Obviously, that influences Hamlet as well. Because he is not seemly crazy at this point, he’s able to distuinguish right from wrong, or, “to be or not to be.”
3. purpose What is the purpose of Hamlet’s speech?
Like previously mentioned, I believe the purpose of this speech is Hamlet just contemplating his choices. Should he bear what fate has in store for him or fight against it. This is him coming to terms with himself, even though he doesn’t really want to. This is apparent when he questions whether to “sleep” or to die. Unfortunately for Hamlet, living IS dealing with all the crap in his life.
4. Appeals: Which appeal(s) does Hamlet use to convince and/or motivate his audience? Reference specific lines.
Ethos: Appeal to the character of the speaker
Pathos: Appeal to the emotions or interest of the audience
Logos: Appeal to logic
Hamlet tries to convince himself by saying such things as, “To die, to sleep-No more- And by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub…” In this quote, I think it’s pleasing the “pathos” art of himself. He can’t, or rather, doesn’t want to face, what he feels like he has to do to avenge his father. Right after that however he says, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause: there’s the respect…” That is going along with the “logos” term, or, the logical, non-crazy part of Hamlet. ”That patient merit of the unworthy takes, then he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death…” This quote is referring back to Hamlet’s pondering on whether or not to just “end it all,” or die.
5. Figures of speech, imagery, diction, syntax: What literary devices does Hamlet employ? Where do you see him making comparisons? Which tropes–similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc. does he use? How do these comparisons relate to his rhetorical purpose? What particularly vivid images stand out? What effect do these images have on Hamlet’s rhetorical purpose?
Hamlet’s speech uses the ever-present soliloquy that Shakespeare seems to love writing. Hamlets soliloquy also includes a paradox (“To be or not to be…”), metaphor (fate), and uses a play on words (sleep/dying). These things all relate to the rhetorical purpose of his speech by reinstating that he is unsure of what to do next. When he refers to fate and fortune as a woman particularly stands out, along with, ”Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” and when he asked Ophelia to pray for his sins (to forgive him). I think that that also shows that Hamlet still loves, or at least, likes, Ophelia, and is insulting her later just to get her out of the way, so as to not get hurt or for her to move on with her life (away from Hamlet).
6. How do you respond to Hamlet’s soliloquy? In other words, what do you think of him right now?
I think, for the most part, Hamlet is still sane. However, I still have a few doubts. Something I just thought of: when Hamlet says he wants to ”die,” could he not only be talking about dying in the physical sense, but rather, to “die?” As in to just shut down, so to speak, and let the edges of the fine line he’s crossing between the sane and the insane…blur? Overall, I this speech is very powerful. I could feel the intensity of his words through the page, and found that when I paraphrased the whole thing, it sounded just like anyone in the modern world going through Hamlet’s situation would have sounded like.