Hamlet: To Soliloquy or Not To Soliloquy

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Hamlet. Act 3. Scene 3.)

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1. Scene 2. A soliloquy is like an aria in opera. Or that solo in a musical such as Julie Andrews doing “The Sound of Music” on top of that mountain.

It’s when an actor lets loose and shows his stuff. It doesn’t happen in drama that much these days. Modern dramatists prefer the strong, silent type. You know, the James Dean type of acting.

A soliloquy is like a gift under the Christmas tree for an actor. Christmas is the play.

It’s like the comedian doing stand-up. The actor is out there on a tightrope and there’s no net. It is an aside. That moment in a play when the actor takes the audience into his confidence and says, “You have to hear this.”

It’s that jazzman’s solo. He takes off in the middle of a piece and scats for twenty minutes, then returns to the conversation he has been carrying on with his fellow mates.

We’ve all heard soliloquies in everyday life. A co-worker tells a joke. A teacher gives a lecture. A mother shares a recipe with her daughter. A friend tells you a secret.

While we’re on to soliloquies, we can suggest that perhaps Shakespeare’s Sonnets were one hundred fifty-three soliloquies. After all, each of the sonnets makes a very fine monologue.

So there you are. Enough of my soliloquying. Now back to the show.


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