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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

Who does it best?  Branagh: Gibson: Hawke: Olivier: For a smackdown between actors performing Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene, click here .

Balcony Scene Smackdown

Who does it best? Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Franco Zefirelli's 1968 film: Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer in George Cukor's 1936 version: Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in a 1966 performance of the balcony scene from Sergei Prokofiev's ballet (1935-36): (Alas, Fox has blocked Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes's performance from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film.) For a smackdown between actors speaking Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, click here .