Hamlet Blog: To Be, or Not To Be

Pathos, logos and ethos can all be found in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy “To be, or Not To Be.”

Pathos is found in the quote,”Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” (85) It is showing how Hamlet feels about what living makes you. He is saying that people who don’t kill themselves are cowards, highlighting that he is emotionally more involved with the idea that he should kill himself. 

Ethos is shown in the quote, Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.” Hamlet is opening up his debated question to the world. It is no longer about how he feels, but rather other’s opinions and what the right thing to do is. He is asking what is nobler and what is more ethical to do.

Logos is demonstrated in the quote, “To die, to sleep–/No more–and by a sleep to say we end/ The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is heir to.” This provides reasoning for why someone would consider the argument of wanting to die over living. It is logical that by ending your life, you will also put an end to the heartbreak and pain. 

The 5 canons are also displayed in this soliloquy.

#2 Dispostio: (arrangement)

Hamlet opens up his soliloquy with an either or question :“To be, or not to be.” This highlights dispostio because of how it sets up the arrangement of the rest of the speech in sections of reasons to live or reasons to die. This is important in rhetorical analysis because it can be said that Hamlet is neutral at the beginning which emphasizes that the purpose of the soliloquy is to convince himself to sway a certain way. 

Hamlet also arranges his ideas by immediately following a reason to die with a reason why he shouldn’t die. This contrast shows the reader Hamlet’s true conflict with what to do and the severity of his mental state- only one thought away from suicide.  

It is also important to note that Hamlet’s arrangement of his speech follows the format of switching off from what he believes to what the world believes. This trend is essential for textual rhetorical analysis, because it emphasizes the difficulty Hamlet is having listening to his own thoughts. In addition, including the worldly ideas is beneficial to getting the reader to be able to relate his words to some degree. Hamlet adds an element of unknown by doing this, because it makes the reader question whether or not he is actually talking about himself here.


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