To Be or Not To Be ; That is the questions

One of the best examples of soliloquies in form of a monologue presented by William Shakespeare in one of his great tragedies named Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1 the lines of the poem uttered by prince Hamlet after the death of his father King Hamlet.

Text To Be, Or Not To Be

To be, or not to Be

In this line, the question rises in Hamlet’s mind that what is he going to do, he should do or not. Here, readers know that he is thinking about committing suicide because he is feeling tormented by the fact that his mother was having an illegitimate extramarital affair with his own uncle. They have murdered his father. His father’s soul comes in his dream and asks him to take his revenge and not to hurt anyway his wife. He finds himself unable to do anything and wants to commit suicide in his madness.  

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

He asks himself that is it fine to suffer in mind and take no action against anything causing trouble to a person. He is trying to analyze that is it morally good to suffer and do nothing.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

He is talking about the acts of his mother and uncle which by fortune giving him mental problems. 

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

In this line, he is arguing an alternative to taking arms against a sea of trouble. He either wants to kill his mother and uncle or him.

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

The poet referred to the Death to here as a long sleep.

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

Can he overcome his troubles with the help of suicide?

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

The pain caused by his mother and uncle surprised him after finding their relation.

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

He believes that all the pain and troubles are only affecting his body. If he kills himself, He can escape from them because the entire problem can be ended with his body.

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

He agrees to die for a long sleep. He thinks it is religiously right to end up and die.

Outrageous: shameful,

Consummation: The act of bringing to completion or fruition

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

Here comes a doubt in his conscience that if there comes a dream may be a nightmare in his sleep because he has already compared his death to sleep. He can get more troubles because unlike sleep we cannot rise from deathbed whether it is tormenting us. Moreover, of course, there is a chance of unforeseen obstacles in the afterlife.

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

He knows that nobody knows what dream may come in sleep. We cannot escape from there.

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Right now, he is suffering because his body is heir to problems. 

Must give us pause: there is the respect

He gives a second thought to his plan that he must stop there. He gives examples of the people why they are bearing pains in their daily lives.

That makes calamity of so long life;

Though living a life cause troubles but they are still not killing themselves.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

They tolerate the whips and scorns of time. They continue their lives after all.

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

A person bears the wrong behavior done by kings and bosses. He bears the abuses he gets in his daily actions in family, in society, and in offices. 

The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,

A lover lives a life with a broken heart; an innocent man lives his life even with the delay of law when he cannot get justice at the right time.

The insolence of office and the spurns

An employee tolerates the abuse at his office made by his bosses

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

A man lives his with patience and does actions, which have no importance in his life.

When he himself might his quietus, make

He argues in his mind if it is possible to get rid of the circumstance by killing self then why a person lives a painful life.

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

Why do they live a life it is because just they want to live?

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

Why a person lives a life, which is hard?

Rub an unforeseen obstacle

Contumely: abuse

Spurns: rejections

Fardels: burden

But that the dread of something after death,

Hamlet gets a solution here that there a fear of something after death which forces a person to live a life. Afterlife is an uncertainty nobody knows whether he can do something or not there. 

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn

Nobody knows what happens after death. the state after death resembles a country about which we know nothing.

No traveller returns, puzzles the will

It is an immortal universal fact that nobody returns after death. This thing stops him to take any action against life.

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

This is the only thought, which forbids a man to kill himself and rather bear the ills of life.

Than fly to others that we know not of?

He thinks is it right to get into unknown trouble to get rid of renowned problems?

Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all;

This thought makes us cowardly.

And thus the native hue of resolution

There we can see that Hamlet becomes resolute not to take his life.

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

His thoughts banish here.

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard, their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.

Moreover, the step he was going to ahead by killing him in the heat of the moment rejects.

Turn awry: Turned or twisted toward one side

MY LOVE IS LIKE TO ICE, AND I TO FIRE : Nature of Love which can alter others things' Nature .

Amoretti XXX (30)



Stanza: -1   
My Love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?


Explanation: This is a love poem. In the very first line of the first stanza, the poet has presented a striking image of his beloved and himself with the help of a simile. He compares her with Ice and himself with burning fire. Both the matters have distinct features, which show that the couple is standing with some kind of differences between them. In the second line, the poet expresses his surprise at how can she be such a cold-hearted who is very irresponsive towards the poet’s love. On the contrary, she becomes harder as much as the poet shows his love to her. Poet finds him unable to turn her feelings in love despite his burning zeal for love.


Stanza: -2   

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?


Explanation: Here, in these lines poet tries to consider the fact that if he believes that she is not giving him love then why he himself cannot be hard towards her. Why is he unable to leave her and forget his love? On the other hand, as much as she ignores him is love becomes stronger rather than before. He says that his flames of love grow to manifold instead of becoming cold.


Stanza: -3   

What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congeal’d with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?


Explanation: In this stanza, the poet wants to gather the fact that is there anything that contains magical power to turn the nature of things, which is governing their mind and heart? In general, more powering heat can melt the Ice and more powering cold can congeal the fire. There is happing something unusual in which Ice becomes harder with fire and fire grows more with Ice.

Couplet: -4          

Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.


Explanation: In this couplet, the poet finds his solution. He now understands that it is the power of his pure and noble love. He says love has such power, which can alter even the course of nature.  



The theme of this sonnet is explaining the power of love, which can cause alteration of feelings, emotions, and the natural course of life. This sonnet, therefore, has a very popular subject matter- the lover trying hard to immortalize the relationship. 

The poem is a sonnet grouped into three quatrains and a couplet. “Spencer splits his poem into four different sections, each section being a question “The lady in this sonnet is compared to ice whose feelings of coldness keep her disinterested towards the burning love of the speaker. She is a heartless, insensitive woman who is not ready to meltdown on the speaker's efforts and love. The speaker is thus shocked to notice such a type of behavior and wonders that his exceeding passions of love are responsible for the increasing indifference in the woman. The speaker surprisingly is hopeful that one day his burning passions of love will melt her down and she will understand his love and true feelings. Love sometimes seems unattainable but you do not truly know it is out of reach unless you try, Edmund Spenser portrays this message in his poem “My Love is Like to Ice.” 

This poem was taken out from his literary work the “Amoretti,” which was written as a part of the courtship of his second wife Elizabeth Boyle. This poem shows his struggle for love, knowing the intent of the poet’s reason for writing such beautiful poetry gives us the advantage when analyzing. Spenser uses two interesting elements to convey his feelings and emotions in reference to love to show us why love is mutual and should not be given up upon. Symbolism is seen throughout the poem very often with respect to human emotions and feelings. The nature of these two elements shows the reader that there is no such thing as impossible love. Spenser splits his poem into four different sections, each section being a question, which illustrates human emotions and feelings through different states of love. The first section carries its own tone and mood, set by the first line, “My love is like to ice, and I to fire,” Spenser chooses two elements that are incompatible and completely opposite from each other. The speaker in Spenser's sonnet 'My Love Is Like to Ice' is the mask the poet adopts, using an ancient rhetorical device. The poet and the speaker are not necessarily the same. You can consider it the perceiving consciousness if you prefer; the main thing is to avoid the confusion and misunderstanding that accompanies the error. Please remember that a poet like Spenser was always in complete control of his subject. He was not given to flights of fancy in any way whatsoever! 


The poem is a sonnet grouped into three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme of the first quatrain is such as:- 

ABAB/fire, great, desire, entreat
BCBC/heat, cold, sweat, manifold
CDCD/told, ice, cold, device
EE/mind, kind

The first line is a simile that compares his beloved - one to ice and the speaker to a fire that for some reason does not thaw his frozen love. The more he pursues her, the faster she flees (the colder she gets!). There is a 'law of contraries' being created here that defies natural law - those laws like gravity that operate on one and all in normal circumstances. Nevertheless, these are not normal times, the speaker alleges. This is a time for miracles in the realm of romance. We are in an unusual place where the usual laws do not apply. The couplet resolves the dilemma by sleight of language - the power of love can overrule natural love and change our very nature. 

A beautiful portrait of life-cycle presented by : William Shakespeare in his Poem "The Seven Ages Of Man".

Written by:  William Shakespeare in one of his play entitled “As You Like It

Shakespeare wrote his poem in the form of a monologue. Jacques’, one of the characters of this play speaks these lines in Act –II, scene - VII

Enjoy in audio


All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players,

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice

In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,

His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again towards childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

  • First, Age               an Infant
  • Second, Age          a School Boy
  • Third, Age             a Lover
  • Fourth, Age           a Justice
  • Fifth, Age              a Justice
  • Sixth, Age             Slippered Pantaloon
  • Seventh, Age-Old (Second Chillness)

Overview and Explanation

First Age: - Here poet tells that a person takes his entrance on life’s stage in the form of birth and plays his first role as a kid who keeps crying and vomiting all the time in his mother’s lap.

Second age: - He starts to play a role of a school-going boy whose image is shown with his satchel going to school unwillingly. However, his face looks brighter because of his innocent childishness that is completely free from any kind of selfishness, jealousy, ego, pride, and any other emotion like these. Until now, he is unaware of worldliness.

Third age: - here comes the description of teenage years where he plays the role of the lover. A lover misses his lover and sings sad songs and sometimes in praise of his beloved’s eyebrows. He feels anxious and annoying without her. He sighs like a furnace that can even alter the shape of hard iron. 

Fourth age: - at this age, he becomes an adult and behaves responsibly for his family and society like a soldier who becomes aware of his pride and place in society. He becomes aggressive towards his position in society. He wants to establish himself in a great place. Due to his eagerness in this, he starts feeling jealous of others. While performing his duties he forgets his daily grooming action like shaving etc and starts wearing beards and looks like a leopard. For his responsibilities and pride, he is ready to give his life in the name of his honour.

Fifth age: - this age comes with many life experiences. Here he tries to be an example for his next generations. He tries to wear decent clothes and savings. He tries to explain everything with suitable examples. Physically he becomes slightly fat and slow.

Sixth age: - this age comes with physical weakness, here he feels rather weak. His duties seem to him rather harder than earlier. He puts on loose-fitting clothes. Due to weak eyesight, he wears a spectacle, which comes slipping and stops at his nose. He generally sees with a pouch on his side for daily tasks. We can take it as if he has so many things to tell others. This age is mere oblivion of his early stories. He becomes so weak so he cannot travel a lot now. Now his voice also changes and becomes rather thin. Because of low stamina, low confidence.

Seventh age: - this is his last role on this stage of earth. We know it as second childishness because now he is now unable to perform his daily tasks. He is completely dependent on others like a kid who cannot do anything like eating, seeing, listening, and even taking bath. Here he loses every sense helpful to live a life. Like taste, vision, listening, touch, etc. 

Figures of Speech Used in the Poem

All the world is a stage


And all men and women are merely players


Seeking the bubble reputation


Sighing like furnace


Creeping like a snail


Shrunk shank


Plays his part


Using Present Continuous Tense was never so easy before.

How and where do use the Present Continuous tense?



Subject + is/am/are + Main Verb 1st + Ing


Subject + is/am/are + Not + Main Verb 1st + Ing


Is/am/are + Subject +Main Verb 1st +Ing?



Singular Subject + Singular Verb

Plural Subject + Plural Verb


To tell about an action or process that is going on at the time of speaking.

  1. They are cutting trees. (Cut + ing) (T) is doubled here.


To tell about the actions, which are going to be, happen in near future.

  1. He is practicing. (Practice + Ing ) ‘E’ is removed here. 
  2. Am I doing wrong?


With ‘always’, ‘continually’, ’constantly’, and ‘forever’, when a doer is doing something against others' will.

  1. She is always complaining.


Where do not use continuous tense?

Stative Verb/ Non-conclusive verbs


Verbs of appearance              Look, Resemble, Seem, Appear

Verbs of emotions                  Want, Desire, Wish, Hate, Hope, Like, Refuse, Believe, Doubt, Loathe, Mind, Care, Detest, Adore, Appreciate, Admire, Fear, and Expect

Verbs of thinking                   Think, Suppose, Agree, Consider, Trust, Remember, Forget, Know, Understand, Perceive, Realize, and Recollect

Verbs of possessions               Belong, Owe, Own, Possess, Contain, and Have 

Verbs of perception                See, Hear, Smell, Taste, and Feel


Example: - 

  1. We are seeing with our eyes. (Wrong)
  2. We see with our eyes. (Right)
  3. The Session judge is hearing our case. (Right)

Uses of Present Indefinite Tense

 Uses of Present Indefinite Tense



Subject + Main Verb 1st /Main Verb 1st + s/es.


Subject + Do/Does+ Not + Main Verb 1st.


Do/Does + Subject +Main Verb 1st?


  1. Singular Subject + Singular Verb.
  2. Plural Subject + Plural Verb.


1.   To tell a Universal/eternal truth

A.    Birds fly.

B.      Bird flies.


2.   To tell about daily actions

A.    He practices every day.

B.      Do they practice every day?


3.   In live commentaries on TV and radios

A.    Ram passes the ball to Rahim.

B.      Ram does not pass the ball to Rahim.


4.   If sentence starts with here or there

A.    Here comes the train.


5.   In newspapers headlines

A.    Cricket match draws.


6.   For planned future actions

A.    He arrives tomorrow.

B.     Batches start tomorrow.


7.   With whenever and when

A.    Whenever you ring the bell, she comes.


8.   If subordinate clause starts with – if, till, as soon as, when, unless, before, until, even if, in case, as then always use the present simple

A.    We shall wait until she arrives.


9.   Quotations come in present simple. 

A.    The sun rises in the east.

The Good-Morrow


The Good-Morrow


Stanza - I

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.


Lines start with first person pronoun, here poet expresses his surprise as to what he and his counterpart did earlier they fell in love. He regards their former pleasures as childish and rustic and their former life as a long sleep in which they were as oblivious to reality of life to expresses this he has used a reference to the Bible of Seven Sleepers who took refuse in a den due to fear of persecution. He thinks that their earlier lives were abstract and there was nothing real. Poet says his past love for old lovers was just a mere reflection of his present beloved.  


Troth                                              Truly      

Seven Sleepers                             The Seven Christians who took refuse in a cavern because of fear of persecution where they slept and woke up after two hundred years.

Stanza - II

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,

Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,

Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.


Their life in old days was only an illusion. Now the state of dream is overcome and now there happens a new morning of new love. Now their souls have risen. They feel a new love. At this, time there no ground for doubts or jealousy. They are united now. They no longer wish to see other things. They are complete within one another. They want to explore a new world. Now they sought to encompass their life in different directions. Being united in love, they want to make whole world a single room.   


Stanza - III

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die. 


In these lines, we see that the couple visualizes each other in their eyes respectively. They can feel honesty and simplicity in their looks. Their two different faces are like two different hemispheres, which together make a complete whole soul body. Now there remains no differences their love has become immortal. Now there in no fear of decay and death this is symbolized with the references of sharp north, and declining west.        


Source of (Poem): The Norton Anthology of Poetry Third Edition (1983)

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