Ethos Pathos And Logos In Hamlet's First Soliloquy

1766 Words8 Pages

When used correctly, soliloquies successfully allow the reader to experience characters in their most vulnerable state: within their own mind. Hamlet is no exception to this, as Shakespeare’s mastery of rhetoric in establishing the main character’s inner conflict provides depth and rawness to his complex character. In this well-known soliloquy, Shakespeare employs logos to illustrate why death can be both a relief and nightmare because of natural human emotions; accordingly, Hamlet personifies a severe case of teenage depression by simultaneously wishing for an end to suffering, yet remaining unwilling to act on his own thoughts due to fear of the unknown. Throughout this passage, Hamlet attempts to rationalize ending his life over …show more content…

The echo of the phrase “to die, to sleep” (line 6 and 10) suggests his inability to properly justify to himself that death and sleep are one and the same, thus alluding to his inner turmoil. Rather than using repetition to bolster Hamlet’s certainty and commitment to this particular interpretation of dying, Shakespeare does quite the opposite by making Hamlet appear over-analytical and unsure of himself. Similarly, Hamlet lists multiple examples of his suffering in sequential order, including “the pangs of dispirz’d love” and “the insolence of office,” which serve to illustrate his additional efforts to justify his desire of death (lines 17-20). Hamlet currently suffers under the corrupt authority of his uncle Claudius’s reign and believes his love interest, Ophelia, does not reciprocate his feelings, because she decided to distance herself from him after being advised to do …show more content…

Throughout the passage, Hamlet outlines the choice as being rather straightforward: life or death. However, addressing this dilemma through questions creates an extremely critical tone, thereby making him appear pessimistic towards humankind. For example, he wonders, “who would bear the whips and scorns of time . . . when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?” (lines 16, 21-22). Simply put, he scoffs at the notion that anyone would rather take the more difficult path by choosing to live, when a much easier path is available: suicide. However, the more important implication of this quote is that he neglects to use any personal pronouns or explicit statements. Instead, he focuses his words on society in general in an attempt to bury or deflect his personal feelings on the subject, although the audience knows that these are his own thoughts. This type of defense mechanism is called a projection, an often unconscious process that occurs when someone focuses attention on others in order to “avoid being aware of those feelings in oneself” (Abeles 1). A noticeable transition occurs in the subsequent statement, as Hamlet incorporates the first person pronoun “we” to answer his previous question: “But that the dread of something after death . . . makes us rather bear

More about Ethos Pathos And Logos In Hamlet's First Soliloquy

Open Document