“Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then” (4,4,52-55). This is part of one of Hamlets great soliloquys from act 4. This soliloquy hits on several points like greatness, honour and how to live your life. These are to things are subjects that have interested the human mind for thousands of years. This soliloquy speaks to these desires in different ways and is able to relate to our inner desires.
In this essay, it will be explained how this soliloquy and the themes that are featured in it effect the audience. The first way it speaks to the audience, particularly the Elizabethan audience of the time by, is by Shakespeare creating a hero that would do anything to protect their honour. Honour has always been part of a man. Looking at history it has pooped up over and over again. Honour is being true to a set of personal ideals, or being a man of integrity. ` The imminent death of twenty thousand men/ That for a fantasy and trick of fame/ Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot/ Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,/Which is not tomb enough and continent/to hide the slain? (4,4,59-64) In the soliloquy, Hamlet gives the most fundamental idea of honour protect it no matter what. No matter what the fight is over, you have to stand up for yourself or you are not a “man“. Hamlet is looking at Norway’s army with great respect. They are gaining nothing by conquering Poland, yet they are still going after it to protect their honour.
They aren’t backing down from the fight. Shakespeare knew that honour has always been a big part of human life and something greatly respected, especially to the nobles of his time (Shakespeare’s main audience), and made sure to really hit on that really important moral that the audience was able to relate too. Greatness is something that we look for since the beginning. As young children, we look at our parents as the definition of great. As we get older, we start to see all of our parent’s faults but the idea of greatness s already set in our minds and is something that we will always want to achieve. In The soliloquy greatness is closely associated with honour. A good example of how Hamlet sees greatness is the quote was used at the beginning on the essay: “Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then” (4,4,52-55). Hamlet sees greatness has someone who will always defends their honour. He is very jealous of young Fortinbras for being a great man who is always defending.
This speaks to the audience because again, not only is honour again speaking to the audience but also with our desire to be great. The audience can relate to Hamlet. Most people look at someone with envy wishing they could be great like them. Shakespeare used these feelings of envy and wish for greatness to be able to relate to the play. The last point that Shakespeare hits on is living in the moment. Hamlet biggest flaw in the play is his tendency to ever think everything (e. g. When Claudius is praying and Hamlet comes up with several reasons not to kill him. . The biggest thing that Hamlet realizes in his soliloquy is that flaw. “Of thinking too precisely on th’ event— /A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward—I do not know/ Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,” Sith I have cause and will and strength and means/ To do ’” (4,4,40-45) Hamlet realizes what he has done throughout the play and is now regretting the decision he has made. He wishes that he had been brave enough to kill Claudius right away rather than hide behind his thoughts.
Audience can relate to this now more than ever. Just take a look at today’s society, many things are about planning and the future but a lot of other things are the exact opposite. Many people are starting to live with the idea that you need to start doing things on a wimp rather than thinking over things and planning them out. People want to live their life to the fullest (e. g YOLO). The people of Shakespeare’s time were renaissance men. They most likely had these thoughts of making their life worthwhile.
It is in human nature to want to feel as though our lives have meaning. Although Hamlet is not talking about that exact subject, many of the principles are the same. This speaks to the inner desires of the human mind, capturing the audience’s attention. In conclusion, Hamlets soliloquy captures the targets audience’s attention by using elements that have naturally always captures the human mind attention like greatness, a meaningful life and honour. Shakespeare manages to use all of them to capture the audience’s attention and help them relate to the play.
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