How all occasions

How all occasions do inform against me

Act 4.4.32-66

This soliloquy appears after Hamlet has confronted Claudius and is ordered to go to England. It appears after the scene where Claudius reveals that he intends to have Hamlet killed since he is a potential threat to “his crown, his ambition, and his queen.” It occurs while Hamlet is on his way to England, and after he has discovered that the army that he meets is on their way to find the Poles for “a little patch of ground, That hath in it no profit but the name.” This contrasts very effectively with the inaction that Hamlet has been faced with throughout the play. It is this contrast that dominates this soliloquy. He realises that this large-scale army that he has encountered is mobilising to go to war for the trivial sake of honour. His comparison results in his belief that the situation should actually be reversed since although he has the “motive and cue for passion” he has done nothing compared to the army’s mobilisation.

This type of contrast is familiar from Act II scene II where the players also inspires him to action. “How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge!” “Sith I have the cause, and will, and strength, and means To do’t is almost a direct paraphrasement of “If he had the motive and cue for passion that I have.” As he says in the “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I soliloquy.”

This soliloquy appears in quarto 2 but not in quarto1 or the Folio. Although, it is true that the play would function without this soliloquy something meaningful is lost; as shall be shown.

This is Hamlet’s Sixth and Final soliloquy. This is significant since he now fully understands his inactive nature; but now however, it is too late. He has rendered the situation helpless. For the time being, at least, action has become an impossibility.

Here, Hamlet is yet again seen as an intellectual person. By now we have become familiar with his formalistic and universal reasoning process of suggesting and eliminating ideas. At first he accuses himself of inaction. Then, he generalises his situation in a rhetorical question that he knows the answers to. He then suggests that god did not give man brains to atrophy because of disuse.. As a man of inaction he realises how little he has done. He looks “before” or to the past and finally, in the heroic couplet decides what must be or come “after.” He finds that he has had an inclination to observe actions in others rather than to spring to action himself. This is seen when he says: “How all occasions do inform against me and spur my dull revenge.” In the end when he fully realises the need for action himself, since everyone else is so capable of it, he exclaims that “from this time forth my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

This soliloquy appears to contain the most varied mixture of imagery in the play. It contains financial imagery, stately or legal imagery, images of passion, images of reason, images of rankness and Religious imagery. The financial imagery such as the “Chief good and market of his time” expresses the most profitable use man makes of his time. The “Fortune” that Fortinbras risks expresses the unprofitability of the action. The financial imagery thus serves to identify the logicality or illogicality of actions. The legal diction used evokes the parallel between Hamlet and Fortinbras. After “Witnessing” the “army” he ascertains that he has the “Cause” “strength” and “means” to act. The legal imagery, thus ties Fortinbras and Hamlet together. We also find images of passion are juxtaposed with images of reason. Passion-related images such as those of Beasts (a strongly recurrent image throughout the play), “will”, and “Blood” evoke strong feelings from the audience since they inspire dramatic thrust. These images become specially significant when contrasted with discourse, god-like passion and wisdom. The juxtaposition reminds us of Hamlet’s first soliloquy where he says “A beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer.” This helps to give the soliloquy its recapitulatory qualities. The strongly recurrent image of rankness, of something “gross” and earthly also reminds us of the first soliloquy. It evokes the image of crime and something rank and gross in nature. This shows how this soliloquy serves to summarize his other ones yet again. Finally, we find that divinity is equated with ambition or honour. “Led by a delicate…devine ambition puffed.” Hamlet uses this image to convince himself of the virtues of honour.

We should also pay attention to the conceit of sleep and death. These two images immediately make us think of the “to be or to to be” soliloquy. Hamlet “lets all sleep” while the twenty thousand soldiers all face death. The parallel to the “To be or not to be ” soliloquy is further developed when Hamlet philosophises on the delaying effects of thought, that “Thinking too precisely on th’event” leads to “some craven scruple” or cowardly misgivings.
The soliloquy begins with an intellectual self-reproaching tone. Although the soliloquy is based on “blood” and “revenge” the tone is in no way as violent as the first half of the “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I” soliloquy. As his thoughts become less confused the rythm becomes smoother and less disjointed. His thoughts thus gain intellectual momentum until the tone explodes in a genuine outburst of passion. “O from this time forth My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.” The last soliloquy ends in a heroic couplet that gives the play the necessary dramatic thrust that inspires hopes for action.

We find that without this soliloquy Hamlet’s last soliloquy would have been the “now might I do it pat” soliloquy. Here Hamlet’s passion for revenge finally seems to subjugate reason. Without the soliloquy, Hamlet’s renewed interest to complete the revenge would not find expression.If the purpose of the soliloquies is to show Hamlet’s major developments; then the soliloquy is most certaintly necessary here. In view of this, this soliloquy is most certaintly necessary to express Hamlet’s reaction to the disastrous outcome of the “Now might I do it pat” soliloquy. The soliloquy, thus reaches a logical culmination point that ties the soliloquies together through the images and the parallels that it draws and heightens his tragic flaw of indecisiveness.
“A thougt which, quartered, hat but one part wisdom and ever three parts coward.” Shows the mathematical truth and logic in what he is saying. Something profound and unimpeachable. Quarrel in straw. For an eggshell. Two images that are absent in this essay.