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Robert Viking O'Brien

Robert Viking O'Brien is an emeritus professor of English literature at California State University, Chico. He has written about Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, travel and exploration, and Melanesian folklore.

After working as a musician, reporter, and high-school English teacher, O'Brien served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Solomon Islands. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, where he was awarded a MacLeish Scholarship, a Humanities Fellowship, and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. O'Brien has taught over three thousand students in Chico, in Chico State's London Semester program, in the Semester at Sea program, at a Buddhist temple school in Thailand, and as a Fulbright Scholar at Eötvös József College and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

He lives in Chico and Manhattan and is writing a novel.

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Accurate List of Hamlet's Soliloquies

Though Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech is his fourth soliloquy, many websites call it his third. They're skipping the twenty-line speech that follows his interview with the Ghost, which in my view is a particularly bad mistake since Hamlet's monomaniacal vow there is at the heart of his tragedy. The internet's cosmic sinkhole of misinformation will never be filled, but it's worth throwing some dirt in when we can, so here's an accurate list of Hamlet's soliloquies, with a short description of where they occur and what they say, along with a few observations.

"To Be or Not to Be" Smackdown

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The First Soliloquy in Ian McKellen's Richard III

Ian McKellen begins his 1995 film of Richard III with the Lancasters' defeat and the murder of Prince Edward and his father Henry VI. After an opening title, we see the Yorks celebrating their victory: talking, laughing, dancing, and listening to Stacey Kent  singing Christopher Marlowe's "Passionate Shepherd to His Love." As Kent finishes the song, we hear a squawk from another microphone as Richard prepares to speak. He delivers the first couplet—"Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York"—and looks at his brother Edward. The crowd laughs at his wit and applauds his subsequent, triumphant lines. The mood changes when he says, "Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front" (9). The camera moves closer to his own visage, focusing on his teeth as he talks of frightening his adversaries' souls.