Saturday, February 17, 2018

Soliloquy in Hamlet

Soliloquy, a dramatic device used by playwrights to reveal characters’ innermost thoughts, is used in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, show Hamlet's feelings, thoughts and the changes of his mind that undergoes throughout the play. As the play progresses, the audience witnesses Hamlet in a vast range of emotions and much of these are revealed in his soliloquies. Without these “Hamlet’s character would have even less incomprehensible, and the audience and audience would be less able to experience the tension of the play and to gain insight into its problems.”(Wolfgang)

Hamlet's initial soliloquy is found in Act 1, scene 2. His speech portrays his disgust, anger, sorrow, and grief over his mother's sudden re- marriage so soon after his father's death. This soliloquy gives ’his own side of matter, expressing disgust at Claudius, venting at his anguished disappointment at his mother” (Maher) Hamlet is lost and locked in his own mind. He starts his soliloquy-

"O that this too too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw and resolve itself into dew."

He does not want to think about all the events happening around, but he can't help doing so. He is very upset and does not know what to do. He feels disillusioned with the world.-

"How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable'

Seem to me all the uses of this world!"

Hamlet goes on to complain about his mother for not mourning long enough. He deplores his mother's character. Not even two months have passed and she has married a man who is much inferior to her old husband. Her over hasty marriage, which he considers "an incestuous affair" makes him believe that women are weak and inconsistent creatures, he generalizes-

" Frailty thy name is woman!

Hamlet's second soliloquy comes just after the Ghost leaves him, after charging him with the duty of taking revenge upon the murderer of his father. Hamlet resolves to wipe out everything else from his memory and to remember only the Ghost's command.-

"from the table of my memory

I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,

And thy commandment all alone shall live."

The manner in which Hamlet here speaks of never forgetting the Ghost's words makes us think that Hamlet will soon plunge into action and carry out the behest of the Ghost” (Arora)

In act 2, scene 2, Hamlet's third soliloquy is seen which reveals Hamlet's views and feelings. Hamlet starts this soliloquy with "now I am alone", in a tone that he's had enough of it and that he needs to get away from other people.  “Hamlet is so full of conflicting . . . in avenging his father’s murder that he is virtually puzzled by the inner turmoil. His soliloquies reveal his dilemma” (Ron Cameron) In this soliloquy he also bitterly scolds himself for having failed to execute his revenge so far. He calls himself

"a dull and muddy melted rascal, peak

…And can say nothing- no, not for a king,’’

But again he castigates himself not for taking action to avenge his father's death-

"Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,

That I, the son of a dead father museder'd,

Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,"

Thus at the end of the soliloquy we see him planning to enact the Mouse trap play

"The play is the thing

wherein I'llcatch the conscience of the King."

In the 4th soliloquy, Hamlet hits upon a mental nadir. "To be or not to be "can arguably be Shakespeare's most recognizable quote in all of his works. Hamlet attempts to reason with himself on whether or not death is the only solution to end all life suffering portrays him as both confused and cowardly. In this monologue, Hamlet goes into tough debate over whether he should end his own suffering by committing suicide or to step it up and revenge for his father. This soliloquy partly explains Hamlet's delay in carrying out his purpose.

Hamlet's mental status shows some promise in his 5th soliloquy. Hamlet describes his mood as one in which he could "drink hot blood, and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on". In this mood he can even kill his mother. He resolves to "speak daggers to her, but use none."

This soliloquy occurs on his way to meet his mother in the closet. He sees the King at prayer and gets an opportunity to kill him, an opportunity for which he has been longing so far. And yet he does not act because-

Now might I do it pat,now  he is praying.

And now I will do it, and so he goes to heaven

Hamlet decides to wait for an opportunity when his uncle is

"drunk asleep, or in his rage,

…or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in't . . .

This soliloquy emphasizes his delay and procrastinating nature.

Hamlet finally gains the courage to avenge his father.. Hamlet then feels ashamed of his unwillingness to go after Claudius. It dawned on Hamlet that he had been thinking too much and acting too little. With his new determination to avenge his father's murder he vows,

"o, from this time forth,

My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!"

This soliloquy once again emphasizes Hamlet's irresolution and his meditative temperament. His temperament pricks him and urges him but as a natural deficiency always obstructs him.

In addition to that various scholars and authors have shown the importance of the soliloquies of Hamlet. For example, Rolf Soellner says, “Hamlet’s soliloques. . . are fascinating and perplexing exercises in self analysis”

Ralph Berry argues that a principal function of Hamlet's soliloquies is to impose "his viewpoints upon the audience."

In act 3, scene1, there is a soliloquy by Ophelia in which her grief over what she thinks over what she thinks to be Hamlet's loss of reason. This soliloquy gives her idea of the great qualities of Hamlet- scholar, soldier, and ‘the observer of all observers

To conclude we can say that each soliloquy gives us insight into his ability to think and his failure to act in it. It brings the audience into his consciousness and gives us reflection into the most profound thoughts and emotions of the character. Each soliloquy divulges his motivations, or lack thereof, as well as his mental state of the time of each one.


01. Wolfgang Clemen(2005), Shakespeare's Soliloquies. Retrived from

02. Ron Cameron[1999]:Acting Skills for Life, Dundurn Press Ltd
03. Mary Zenet Maher[1992]Modern Hamlets and their soliloquies, University of Iowa Press
04. Arora P.N, Dwivedi A.M, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.
05. Rolf Soellner (1972) Shakespeare's patterns of self-knowledge, Ohio State University Press.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Heart of Darkness: Imperialism

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a large and effective critic of imperialism, which exposes the hypocrisy and tyranny of imperialism portrayed through the brutalities in Africa. Conrad in this novel criticized the intentions of imperialism, which challenged the presumptions of society. His aim in Heart of Darkness was to unveil the underlying horror of imperialism. Conrad sarcastically remarks that it was something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle", which demonstrates how he despised the justification of imperialism.

The keynote of the theme of imperialism is struck at the very outset of Marlow’s narration. Marlow speaks of the ancient Roman conquest of Britain,. Their conquest has always been associated with cruelty and brutality. To Marlow:" The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing ."

Conrad's view of imperialism is reflected through Marlow. Marlow challenges the practice of imperialism. " It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind." There is a hint of evil in Marlow's reference to the city of Brussels as a “white sepulcher". The phrase "white sepulcher" means a place which is outwardly pleasant and righteous but inwardly impure, full of vices, corruptions and evils. Marlow’s experiences in the Congo clearly show that instead of civilizing the savages the white men who went there became exploiters. The colonizers treated the Africans was more like slaves rather than people. The evilness of imperialism s shown very well in this quote:  “As Marlow travels from the Outer Station to the Central Station and finally up the river to the Inner Station, he encounters scenes of torture, cruelty, and near-slavery.’’ At the very least, the incidental scenery of the book offers a harsh picture of colonial enterprise.

This novel also portrays the inhumane behaviors as we find in the below quotation

"Each chief was authorized to collect taxes; he did so by demanding that individuals should work for a specific period of time for a minimum payment. This, of course, was another name for slavery. The so-called taxpayers were treated like prisoners; their work was carried out under the supervision of armed sentries" (Heart of Darkness; pg 81). This quote sums up the immortality and the misuse of power against the Africans. It also gives insight into the horror of the colonization that was taking place at that time. One critic (Wilson Harris) helps describe Conrad's view and vision of the way that the Africans were treated. Harris writes "He sees the distortions of imagery and, therefore, of character in the novel as witnessing to the horrendous prejudice on Conrad's part in his vision of Africa and the Africans".

As we go through the novel we find that the sole purpose of the white men was to indulge in the exploitation of ivory from the natives and brutality over them. Thus "faithless pilgrims", is Marlow calls them. “They do not work; they simply laze around and intrigue. Everyone is there for the money; they have no higher principles or purpose in life. Their sole desire is "to tear treasure out of the bowels of the land ,. . . with no moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe."

Through the descriptions of Marlow in the novel, Conrad conveys to us the callousness of the white man towards the natives. After getting down from the swedish  captain's steamer, Marlow sees some awful and grim sights. He sees a lot of people, ‘’mostly black and naked, moving about like ants’’. Marlow feels deeply upset at the sight of the Africans.

I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck,
and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking.

He sees black figures crouching under the trees, leaning against the trunks, and clinging to the earth, dying slowly.’They were dying slowly – it was very clear.  They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now – nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation…lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on  unfamiliar food, they sickened, become inefficient, and were allowed to crawl away and rest. (Conrad 2)

The Company had no qualms regarding the mistreatment of the natives, as described by the following account:

It is also disgusting for us to watch the manner in which the cannibal crews of Marlow’s steamer are being treated by the white owners of the steamer. The cannibal crews are studious and fine fellows. But the pity is that they are properly fed. Their hippo meat war thrown overboard by the white men who could not stand the rotten smell of the hippo meat. Now the cannibals crew have nothing to eat. But they exercise self restraint amd do not attack the white men on board in order to meat their flesh. Thus the white men are absolutely uncovered about the welfare of the cannibal crew on whose labour and toil they depend.

“Heart of Darkness is by, common consent, one of Conrad’s best things an appropriate source for the epigraph of the hollow men.”    (R. R. Leavis)

Conrad not only exposes the futility and the failing of the Belgian imperialism over the Congo but also reminds us of British imperialism in various countries of his time. Today white imperialism has crumbled and most of the counties have become independent. Conrad's accusation of imperialist rule in Congo had a valuable message for both the exploiters and the exploited. In the business of exploration, both exploiter and exploited are corrupted.

To conclude we can sum up, Heart of Darkness is a poignant account of the horrendous brutalizing effects of colonialism. Conrad here discloses the reality of imperialism and shows this system as corrupting. This story becomes the longing to wring the heart of the wilderness and exterminates all the brutes. It is an excellent portrayal of the evilness and suffering caused by imperialistic powers exercising their powers in wrong ways. The white men are presented as the blood suckers monsters that have on sympathy, human feelings for the barbarisms, and uncivilized natives of distant islands. Conrad's aim in this novel is thus to expose the evilness of imperialism by providing a glimpse of truth.

Social Picture in "A passage to India"

A passage to India is a realistic portrayal of the contemporary Indian society of the colonization period. It gives more or less an accurate picture of life in India in the 1920’s. This novel gives us the fruitful picture of local customs and beliefs, Hindu – Muslim conflict and historically true account of the conflict of the cultures of the East and West which were prevalent in that society.
One of the most important issues in that is portrayed in A Passage to India is the arrogance of the British ruling class in conflict with the native pride of the Indian people. The ruling people always feel superior to themselves and tries to keep themselves aloof from the native and the result is the hatred and bitterness that are generated in the minds of the native people against the ruling class.

The beginning of the novel reveals the wide gulf existing between the white rulers and the brown Indians. The town of Chandrapur is divided into two parts, the English civil station and the native section. The civil station shares nothing with the city except the overarching sky. The railway line divided the European locality from the Indian locality. Thus the city is tensed with antagonism, of class and race. They separate themselves from the population, declaring their own superiority over the masses as they build their walled compounds content to be out of sight and sound of any Indians, with the exception of their servants (of course) (Kurinan 44). They seek to make Britain in India, rather than accepting and glorifying the resident cultures. They remain strangers to it, practically living in a separate country they provided for themselves, yet ruling one that they remained aloof from (Eldridge 170).

Forster depicts that there was no sign of friendship between the English and the Indians. At the very outset of the novel, Dr. Aziz shows his scornful attitude to the English, wishing only to consider them comically or ignore them completely. He shows his distrust by saying to Hamidullah"whether or not it is possible for Indians to be friends with Englishman." Another native contends that it is impossible but Hamidullah believes that this friendship is only possible in England. He remembers how he was treated cordially by the English. But their attitude totally changed when the colonial rule is established. Aime Cesaire states, "it is simply the savage nature of colonization that changes man into their most primal state.

At that time the British people used to treat the Indians with disrespect. It is demonstrated by Major Calleneder's summon to Aziz and his wife's oblivious attitude towards Aziz. This sense of superiority had a tremendous impact on the native people and they remarked bad comments against them.

However, Miss Quested, Mrs. Moore and Fielding are among the minority of Britons who actually appreciated "the real India” We see in what way the Anglo-Indian think about the Indians when Adela expresses a wish to see the real India. One woman in the gathering says that when she was a nurse to Indians, she "remained sternly aloof from them."  Nihal Singh says, "  the British in India despise and ostracize Indians (Ibid)

The English officials and their wives are suspicious of Indians. They are furthermore distant and reserved in their behaviour towards the Indian. Mrs. Turton says "Britons are superior to everyone in India except one or two of the Rani's." The attitudes of the city Magistrate, Ronny Heaslop is typical of the entire white bureaucracy. He holds a low opinion about Indians and can't develop any understanding with them. He fulfills the characteristics of the administrative class. … caring only about his superiority over the Indians (Kurinan 43).

Any attempt of making friendship with ruling class results in disaster as it is seen when Dr. Aziz is  accused for the suspect of following Miss Quested,  none of the ruling class, with the exception of Fielding and Mrs. Moore, has the least doubt that Aziz is guilty. The collector takes the incident as confirming the view that the English and Indians should never try to become intimate socially because there is nothing ‘but disaster result when English people and Indians attempt to be intimate socially.’’ On the incident of Aziz's arrest, the colonized people shows their hatred which they cherished in their mind for many years. The Indian servants make no secret of their dislike for their English Masters.

Another important issue that was seen at that time was the mutual prejudices of Hindus and Moslems against each other. Nor are the relations between Hindus and Muslims very cordial. It is true they get closer to each other as a result of their common stand against the English on the occasion of the trial of Aziz. But otherwise the two communities are poles apart. Godbole reminds Aziz of cow-dung, and the rhythm of Hindu drums is uncongenial to Aziz. Aziz thinks that Hindus in general are slack and have no idea f society or punctuality. All illness proceeds from Hindus, says Haq. Syad Mahmoud describes Hindu religious fairs with biting scorn. The annual riots among Hindus and Muslems on the occasion of Mohurram prove to Ronny “that the British were necessary to India; there would certainly have been bloodshed without them.” Godbole thinks it necessary to have another wash if he has been touched by Moslems at the time of a religious ceremony. In short, Hindus and Moslems represent two different cultures and cannot become one. Then there are the divisions among Hindus themselves. For instance, in the Hindu state of Mau, “the cleavage was between Brahman and non-Brahman; Moslems and English were quite out of the running. In short, the native Indian scene too offers a spectacle of social conflict and lack of understanding.

 By analyzing the above discussion we can say that Forster’s A Passage to India is the portrayal of the mutual prejudices of Hindus and Moslems against each other, The nationalist feelings of both the communities and their antagonism towards the English officials, the arrogance and the sense of racial superiority of the white people which were the prevalent issues of that time in India.


01. Eldrige, C. C (1996). The Imperial Experience: From Carlyle to Forster. New York: St. Martin’s Press

02. Kurinan, V. G. (1969), The Lords of Humankind. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.

03. Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review

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