• First, develop an individual argument about the meaning or purpose of the soliloquy. This will be the thesis statement.
  • After defining the thesis statement, develop sections of integrated mini quotes that help to break apart the soliloquy in a manner that supports your thesis statement. Plan on constructing three paragraphs of commentary focusing on your literary analysis.
  • All mini quotes or lines should include the proper MLA citations (i.e (insert line number here))

While you are not expected to write a full paper here, you are welcome to write as much as you’d like to help you practice supporting your thesis statement and ensuring the evidence flows into the commentary. Remember to ask: why is Shakespeare doing what he is doing and how is he doing it?

Additional Requirements: 

– Please make sure to separate the 3 paragraphs into 3 main ideas of the text  (i.e first paragraph focuses on the Hecuba reference, the second focuses on Hamlet’s perceived cowardice, and the third focuses on his revenge/plan to see if Claudius is guilty) that all flow together to the main idea in the thesis statement.


Please do NOT copy essays/other pieces of work from elsewhere online.


“Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
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,
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,
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? Ha!
‘Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall
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,
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;
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. (Hamlet 2.2.613-672)

Example (for reference – please do not copy the exact format of this example):
O heat, dry up my brains! tears seven times salt,
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight,
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May!
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens! is’t possible, a young maids wits
Should be as mortal as an old mans life?
Nature is fine in love, and where tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves. (IV.v.155-164)

Sample thesis statement:

Laertess recognition of the fragility of life further develops the theme of mortality in Hamlet.

Sample quotes integrated into a paragraph of commentary:

The sorrow Laertes feels demonstrates his struggle with accepting what he sees before him, exclaiming O heat, dry up my brains! tears seven times salt (IV.v.155). Shakespeares parallel structuring of this imagery in the next line explains this will burn out the sense (156) of his mind and his sorrow will flow from his eyes through his tears. Although he wishes for his mind to cease thinking to avoid the anguish of seeing his sister in this state, he battles with the idea of a young persons mind being as mortal as an old mans life (161). The positive diction to describe Ophelia, such as dearkindsweet (159), is at odds with the darkness of death, or at least the permanent loss of ones cognitive faculties.  This grief fuels his desire for revenge as he declares they madness shall be paid with weight, / till our scale turn the beam (157-158), showing he intends to push the metaphorical scales of justice even beyond the symbolic cost of Ophelias sanity.

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