Shakespeare ’s plays feature many soliloquies, some of which are his most famous passages. Perhaps the most famous is Hamlet ’s ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy, where Hamlet contemplates suicide . The audience is taken through his thought processes, where he balances the pros and cons of ending his life – an all time classic soliloquy.
The soliloquies developed by great dramtists like Calderon or Racine , Lessing or Schiller are distinctive soliloquies developed within certain limits and are not in the same way as of the typical soliloquy of Shakespeare ...if we were to postulate several basic types of soliloquy in Shakespeare, following the functional patterns found in drama before his time... we would only partially succeed in assigning to them the abundance of individual soliloquies. For all such categories as expositional soliloquy, reflective soliloquy, homily and so on, turn to be applicable in part only.
First then, soliloquies had need to be few, Extremely short, and spoken in passion too.
Their [soliloquies] study is particularly fruitful in enabling us to grasp something of the distinctive quality of Shakespeare ’s craftsmanship , being in-miniature reflections of his art of language and characterization, and his skill of dovetailing in the construction of scenes. Each soliloquy is connected in different ways and at different levels with the dramatic organism as a whole. There are more than 300 soliloquies in Shakespeare’s plays and we find them in every play, but their frequency in the individual plays varies, as does their length, which ranges from half line to seventy.