Hamlet's Second Soliloquy: Original Text & Summary
Hamlet's Second Soliloquy
Following is the original text of Hamlet's second soliloquy, later followed by a summary for better understanding.
Act 1, Scene 5
O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! — Hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. — Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven! —
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables, — meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least, I am sure, it may be so in Denmark
Hamlet’s second soliloquy occurs right after the ghost of the dead King, Hamlet’s father, leaves, having charged Hamlet with the duty of taking the revenge upon his murderer:
“foul and most unnatural murder”
The ghost of the dead king tells Hamlet that as he slept in his garden, a villain poured poison into his ear. The ghost reveals the murderer to Hamlet by saying:
“The serpent that did sting thy father’s life / Now wears his crown”
This reveals the fact that King Claudius is the real murderer of Hamlet's dead father. Hamlet is stunned by the revelation and echoes of the Ghost’s words asking him to remember it.
This soliloquy reveals an important secret to Hamlet and carries his rage and grief. He is shocked, stunned, and in great grief upon realizing that his father was rather murdered by Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet now refers to his mother as the “most pernicious woman” and to his uncle as a “villain”, a “smiling damned villain”. In the end of the soliloquy, Hamlet swears to remember and obey the ghost.
This soliloquy holds immense importance and is one of the pivotal pillars in Act 1.