ABSTRACT

Of the soliloquies in Hamlet, the twelve lines at the end of 3.2 beginning " 'Tis now the very witching time of night" seem, on the surface, to be the least interesting. In this brief fifth soliloquy no 'philosophy' is being propounded, no consideration of the world and its ways or of Hamlet's internal anguish is forthcoming. In the hurried action that follows on the success of the Mousetrap stratagem, these lines (3.2.406-17) bridge the gap between, on the one hand, Hamlet's excited dismissal of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (3.2.55-6) followed by his exasperating encounter with Polonius (3.2.103-11), and, on the other, the prayer scene (3.3) that is prelude to the climactic closet scene (3.4).