Poetry and Pathos in Hamlet

Hamlet with its resonant poetry and tragic philosophy of love, loss and duty highlight, with supreme grace, the intricacies of characterization. A close study of the formal artifices employed through poetry, play of contrasts and the structural integrity of the action in context of the famous soliloquy under discussion, offers a glimpse into the complex textual dynamics of Shakespeare’s generic as well as particular plot devices that constantly interact with each other within the expertly woven, intricate matrix of Hamlet. Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in Act 3, scene 1 (56-89), begins with – “To be, or not to be, that is the question” (Shakespeare 277).
Hamlet’s breathtaking “To be, or not to be” soliloquy, delivered at a crucial junction of the plot in Act 3 scene 1, stands at the center of the play’s action. Indeed, it has carved a focal position for itself in the history of the western theater and poetic oeuvre. The iambic rhyme scheme, a trademark of the Shakespearean tragic genre, exudes a reflective self-portrait of the troubled prince, caught in an inextricable web of conflicting centripetal forces and actions that draw him in different directions at once.
The tragedy of Hamlet is ‘foregrounded’ in the mutinous attitude, chronic melancholia and acute monomania with which he surrounds himself from the very beginning. This act of foregrounding plays a critical role in a formalist reading of the soliloquy and, by extension, the play. The graceful harmony of the rhythm does not detract.