William Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s first soliloquy to characterise Hamlet in order to captivate the audience and set the stage for the events about to unfold. In the soliloquy, Shakespeare introduces us to the complex, melancholy mind of the protagonist, depicting grief over his father’s death, anger towards his mother, and general weltschmertz. The passage introduces the audience to a truly multifaceted character, not before seen by an Elizabethan audience.
Hamlet begins with thoughts of suicide, yet is indecisive since it is forbidden by god. These lines serve two purposes. Hamlet’s hamartia, indecisiveness, is brought to light, as well as exploring the taboo topic of suicide in front of an audience leading difficult lives with which the subject would resonate.
Next, Hamlet laments the death of his father, the king. Here, Hamlet proves his continuing loyalty to Hamlet senior, contrasting with the previous uncertainty to complicate Hamlets character further, inviting the audience to relate to him. The lines also recap previous events to aid the audience in their comprehension and foreshadow Hamlet’s eagerness to meet with the ghost and eventually avenge his father’s death.
Hamlet then goes on to say that it is not his father’s death that disturbs him most, rather his mother’s rapid remarriage to Claudius. Hamlet is seen to have excessive love for Gertrude, and from this stems contempt. Audiences are then left to speculate as to whether Hamlet suffers from an Oedipus complex. Hamlet introduces a topic that he will spend much energy brooding on in the future.
It is evident from this soliloquy that Hamlet led a fairly ideal life in Wittenberg before the king’s death. This would cause Hamlet to appear as despondent as he does since he touts his father’s ability as king and expresses such ill feelings towards the events that ended his idyllic lifestyle. It is realised that Hamlet is unaccustomed to hardship, and empathy would be awarded to him for being thrust into...