Juxtaposition in Hamlet's Soliloquy

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 610 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 610|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Body Paragraph 3
  5. Conclusion


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William Shakespeare's Hamlet is replete with linguistic and thematic devices that serve to deepen the complexity of its characters and plot. One of the most compelling techniques Shakespeare employs is juxtaposition, especially evident in Hamlet's soliloquies. Juxtaposition, the act of placing contrasting elements side by side, enhances the emotional and intellectual impact of the text. In Hamlet's soliloquies, this device illuminates the prince's internal conflicts, his contemplation of existential themes, and his fluctuating perceptions of life and death. By examining key examples of juxtaposition in Hamlet's soliloquies, we can gain a richer understanding of his character's psyche and the broader philosophical questions the play raises.

Body Paragraph 1

One of the most famous examples of juxtaposition in Hamlet's soliloquy is found in the opening lines of "To be, or not to be" (Act 3, Scene 1). Hamlet begins with the existential question, pondering the merits of existence versus non-existence: "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Here, Shakespeare juxtaposes the concepts of life and death, placing them in stark contrast to emphasize Hamlet's deep-seated uncertainty and despair. This juxtaposition not only highlights Hamlet's internal struggle but also invites the audience to consider the nature of human suffering and the appeal of oblivion as an escape. The use of juxtaposition in these lines underscores the dichotomy between Hamlet's desire for action and his paralyzing indecision, setting the stage for the philosophical inquiry that follows.

Body Paragraph 2

Another significant instance of juxtaposition occurs later in the same soliloquy, where Hamlet contrasts "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" with "taking arms against a sea of troubles." This imagery places passive suffering and active resistance side by side, highlighting Hamlet's contemplation of whether to endure life's hardships or to actively confront them, even if that confrontation might lead to his demise. The juxtaposition here serves to deepen Hamlet's existential dilemma. The stark contrast between suffering passively and fighting back illustrates the broader human condition, reflecting the universal struggle between acceptance and rebellion. Shakespeare's use of such vivid, opposing imagery not only enhances the emotional weight of the soliloquy but also invites the audience to reflect on their own responses to adversity.

Body Paragraph 3

Furthermore, juxtaposition is evident in Hamlet's contemplation of death as both a potential release and a possible continuation of suffering. He muses on the "undiscovered country" from which "no traveler returns," juxtaposing the fear of the unknown with the known hardships of life. This contrast between the familiar pain of existence and the uncertainty of what comes after death highlights Hamlet's profound anxiety and indecisiveness. The phrase "undiscovered country" evokes a sense of mystery and potential danger, suggesting that death might not be the peaceful escape Hamlet yearns for but rather another realm of uncertainty and possible torment. Through this juxtaposition, Shakespeare underscores the complexity of Hamlet's thoughts on mortality, portraying him as a character caught between the dread of life's suffering and the fear of an unknown afterlife.


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In conclusion, the use of juxtaposition in Hamlet's soliloquies is a powerful literary device that Shakespeare employs to explore the intricate layers of Hamlet's character and the profound themes of the play. By placing opposing concepts such as life and death, passive suffering and active resistance, and the known versus the unknown side by side, Shakespeare illuminates the prince's inner turmoil and existential contemplation. These juxtapositions not only enrich our understanding of Hamlet's psyche but also engage the audience in a broader reflection on the human condition. Through the careful use of juxtaposition, Shakespeare crafts a narrative that is as intellectually stimulating as it is emotionally resonant, ensuring that Hamlet's soliloquies remain some of the most compelling and thought-provoking passages in literary history.

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Juxtaposition in Hamlet’s Soliloquy. (2024, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Juxtaposition in Hamlet’s Soliloquy.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2024,
Juxtaposition in Hamlet’s Soliloquy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Juxtaposition in Hamlet’s Soliloquy [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 12 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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