Theme Of Hamlet's First Soliloquy

1766 Words 8 Pages
Hamlet’s first soliloquy is an example of Shakespeare’s motif of garden imagery and a theme of corruption in the play. In this passage, Hamlet is talking to himself after the Queen and Claudius ask why he is acting so strangely. He goes on to lament that suicide is against God’s law, then describes his life as “an unweeded garden / that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature / possess it merely” (1.2.135-137). I believe Shakespeare writes Hamlet comparing his life to a garden full of weeds in order to show his state rather than to tell it; this technique to ‘show, not tell’ is often encouraged in literature, and it seems Hamlet’s lamentation in act one prepares the reader for Hamlet’s fourth soliloquy about suicide by suggesting he …show more content…
Shakespeare uses the word ‘garden’ to introduce the garden and weed motif in Hamlet’s first soliloquy, and in this scene, Shakespeare uses ‘orchard’ instead. According to the OED, an ‘orchard’ is an enclosed garden for herbs and fruit trees (n, 1), and it is essentially another word for ‘garden’ (which is defined with identical terms; n, 1a.). Scripture does refer to where the fall of Adam and Eve occurs as the ‘garden’ of Eden and not an ‘orchard’, but I think Shakespeare’s inclusion of the word ‘serpent’ supports this passage’s allusion to scripture. In addition, I believe that the ghost is using ‘orchard’ to sound elegant (kings such as King Henry IV spoke formally and elegantly in Shakespeare’s plays) and to provoke imagery that alludes to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which bore the forbidden fruit of which Adam and Eve ate. Moreover, I believe the ghost’s description of Claudius as a serpent adds to this allusion. In the book of Genesis, the serpent tempts Eve into eating the fruit from the knowledge of good and evil, and as a result, the perfection that Christian belief holds Adam and Eve to have had was corrupted. Relating to the tempting of Eve, I also believe that Claudius seduced the Queen into marrying him because his taking of the crown is an acquisition of power, and this power allows Claudius to …show more content…
I believe Shakespeare wrote these two patterns into the play so as to simplify the plot and Hamlet’s point of view in a way that can be easily understood using imagery and allusions to scripture. Just as Jesus in the New Testament passage discussed uses parables to simply teaching, I believe that Shakespeare alludes to scripture so as to make his plot easily understood by his original audiences in London; perhaps they were knowledgable about scripture as well. Not to mention, I think the garden imagery of weeds, an orchard, and a serpent show Shakespeare’s clever embellishment and enhancement of the play’s theme of corruption, which contributes to making Hamlet one of Shakespeare’s most popular

Related Documents