Textuality » 4LSCA Interacting

LDri - Textual Analysis: To Be Or Not To Be - 03/12/2020
by LDri - (2020-12-03)
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A soliloquy is a form of poetry where the character talks to him/herself. One of the most famous soliloquies is the Shakespeare’s one: To be, or not to be.


Its structure starts whit a question, which will be developed in all the monologue. Right from the second line, the poet tries to give a tentative of answer, reporting two different options, the character has to choose.

However, the most relevant line is the first one, which reports the great question: to be or not to be?

All the attention is focused on the verb “to be”, a perceptional verb written in the infinitive form, that makes the question an universal one, addressed to everyone. Indeed, the sense of “to be” is very huge and includes other meaning such as “to exist”, “to live”, “to do”. According to this, the question hides a deep problem, characterized by the contrast between two key-words: life (=to be) and death (=not to be). All in all, punctuation has an important role. Indeed, the comma and the two colons create a sequence of pauses, that forces the reader to stop and to reflect about what it has said and what will be said.

Proceeding with the reading, the speaker presents two tentative of answer. In these lines, the Renaissance vision of the man is evident. Indeed, the poet stands out the capacity of thinking, making hypothesis and taking in consideration, all mind skills. The renaissance man appreciates the rationality.

As anticipated, the question is indirectly addressed to all humanity. To tell the truth, everyone has to choose if surrendering in front of difficulties of if taking arms against troubles. The idea of life comes to light as if it was a difficult battle everyone copes with. It is described as an “outrageous fortune”, that can be favorable or unfavorable, depending on the situation (according to the renaissance dimension).

Therefore, you should choose whether to accept all the problems and live in a passive way (=not to be) or to fight and put an end to suffering. The semantic field is strongly connected to the idea of life. Indeed, the poet uses words such as “slings”, “arrows”, “arms”, “troubles” and “opposing”.

In the fifth line, the idea of death is compared to an eternal sleep, that put an end to “heart-ache” and “thousand natural shocks”, which arise from the desire and from the flesh (reevaluated at that time).

Again the speaking voice repeats “to die, to sleep”, underlining again the relation between the two moments and creating a sound effect, that creates a link between the lines and the words.