Death In Hamlet

Words: 1014
Pages: 5

“To be or not to be” is a question that has plagued mankind for years and sufficient in summarizing the plot of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (III, i, 63). Should we continue the suffering of life or risk the afterlife and potentially end the pain? Throughout the play this topic of life and death is a continuing theme. Some events in Hamlet may lead one to believe that Shakespeare believes life is precious; however the majority of events reveal the true belief of Shakespeare, that life is meaningless. This is seen through scenes such as the one when Hamlet looks at skulls in the graveyard before Ophelia’s funeral, his monologue to be or not to be speech, and the fact that most main characters die over the course of the play.
One example of
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Here Hamlet speaks his conflicted thoughts about whether life is worth living or if it is better to end it to stop his suffering. “And by a sleep we say to end/ The heartache and the thousand natural shocks” (Shakespeare III, i, 68-69). This quote shows his reasoning for contemplating suicide because he considers death to be an equal to sleep and that it brings an end to the endless suffering that life brings. He debates himself by stating, “To sleep, perchance to dream: ay there’s the rub” (III, i, 72). By this he means that he is uncertain of the afterlife, whether he will live peacefully or receive the endless suffering like his father because he was killed before he could repent of his sins. It is clear that Hamlet is not living his life to life, rather that he is living his life because he fears what will happen to him when he dies. Suicide was also considered to be an unholy act by in this time period according to the nation’s religion of Christianity as seen by the gravediggers comments about Ophelia. “If this had not been a/ gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial” (V, i, 21-23). Hamlet does not want to risk his soul being punished for his last action as a living being so he ultimately decides against suicide. Another reason for his decision is that he does not want his memory to be tarnished as he saw with Ophelia’s. Therefore …show more content…
The play revolves around the murder of Hamlet’s father, the old king, by Claudius. This event precedes the events of the play and is most likely the cause of Hamlet’s negative thoughts about death and life. Death becomes a terrifying thought to him at one point after seeing his father because he does not know if he will end up suffering like his father. This and his drive for revenge keep him from committing suicide despite his awareness about the futility of life. Other characters to die include Ophelia, Polonius, Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This excessive number of deaths around Hamlet lead him to become more numb to death and potentially cause him to think more about the practicality of suicide. Losing so many friends and family members tragically like this most likely changed Hamlet’s ideas of life and force him to question why he must live while they all die. In doing this, Shakespeare is portraying death as a tragedy one must continually deal with in life, increasing the ever growing list of reasons why life is full of suffering as spoken by Hamlet in his soliloquy in the previous