Read the Hamlet soliloquy “O that this too solid flesh would melt” below with modern English translation & analysis:

Spoken by  Hamlet, Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2:
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month–
Let me not think on’t–Frailty, thy name is woman!–
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow’d my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears:–why she, even she–
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn’d longer–married with my uncle,
My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
“O That This Too Solid Flesh Would Melt” Soliloquy Translation:
He wished that his body would just melt, turn to water and become like the dew. Or that the Almighty hadn’t made a law forbidding suicide. Oh God! God! How weary, stale, flat and useless everything about life seemed! He moaned. It was terrible. The whole world was like an unweeded garden that had gone to seed – only ugly disgusting things thrived. He couldn’t believe what had happened. Only two months dead; no, not even two. Such an excellent king he had been, compared with this one. It was like Hyperion, the sun god, compared to a lecherous satyr. He’d been so loving to his mother that he wouldn’t even allow the gentle breeze of heaven to blow too roughly on her face. He lifted his hands and blocked his ears as though to shut his father’s memory out. She had loved him so much, adored him, as though the more she had of him the more she wanted him. And yet, within a month! He couldn’t bear to think about it. Women were so inconsistent! Only a month, even before the shoes with which she had followed his father’s body were old, all flowing with tears, she, even she… Oh God! Even an animal that doesn’t have reason, would have mourned longer – ..she married his uncle! His father’s brother, but no more like his father than he was like Hercules. Even before the salt of those hypocritical tears had left her swollen eyes, she married. Oh, most wicked speed, to hurry so enthusiastically to incestuous sheets! It couldn’t end happily. But he would just have to break his heart, because he had to hold his tongue.

 

See other Hamlet soliloquies >>

Read Hamlet in modern English >>

 

3 replies
  1. jozaud
    jozaud says:

    I don’t understand why the soliloquy is in the present tense but the translation is all in the past. “But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue” becomes “But he would just have to break his heart, because he had to hold his tongue.” This doesn’t make any sense.

    Reply
    • JC
      JC says:

      Well it should be obvious that the soliloquy itself is being spoken by Hamlet in the first person. Considering he is talking about himself. The translation is in third person, and is discussing not only what Hamlet is doing but what he is thinking and feeling. It’d be difficult to just put in modern terms the soliloquy without explaining the meaning behind it.

      Reply

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  1. [...] is a reason why, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, suicide is forbidden by the Almighty: O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the [...]

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