William Shakespeare himself has seem to become immortal over hundreds of years through his numerous plays. His name will never be forgotten and will forever be etched into literary history. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare gets the audience and readers to ponder the idea of mortality throughout the tragedy.The weight of one's mortality and the complexities of life and death are introduced from the beginning of Hamlet. In the wake of his father's death, Hamlet can't stop pondering and considering the meaning of life, and its eventual ending.
In Hamlet’s mind the idea of dying isn’t so bad. It is uncertainty of the afterlife that frightens Hamlet away from suicide, even though he’s obsessed with the notion. Young Hamlet is left devastated after his father’s death and to make matters even worse, his mother re marries his uncle only a few months later making him King after the funeral. When Old Hamlet’s ghost finally appears before Hamlet revealing the true cause of death was him being poisoned, the prince feels as if he finally has a purpose. He wants to avenge his father’s death and kill
Claudius; however, this does not rid Hamlet of his depression. Hamlet contemplates the idea of suicide over and over again throughout the play and his flaw is that he ponders and overthinks everything. He is hesitant to kill Claudius right from the get go, but this flaw of his also stops him from suicide. This is depicted in the “To Be or Not To Be” monologue.
“ To be, or not to be that is the question:/Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. 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. 'Tis a consummation/Devoutly to be wish'd. To die to sleep./To sleep perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub!/For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/When we have shuffled off this mortal coil/Must give us pause. There's the respect/ That makes calamity of so long life./For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,/ Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,/The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,/The insolence of office, and the spurns/ That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,/ When he himself might his quietus make/With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear/To grunt and sweat under a weary life,/ But that the dread of something after death/ The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn/No traveller returns puzzles the will/And makes us rather bear those ills we have/Than fly to others that we know not of?/Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,/And thus the native hue of resolution/Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,/And enterprises of great pith and moment/With this regard their currents turn awry/And lose the name of action. Soft you now!/The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons/Be all my sins rememb'red (III.I.6498)
Hamlet is obsessed with the idea of suicide, but several question emerge during the soliloquy.
Hamlet describes death as an everlasting sleep, but he doesn’t know whether it would be like a dream or whether it would be a nightmare. He toys with the idea of there being another life after death, therefore in some way he lives on. He understands that suicide is a sin in the Christian religion, which would result in him going to hell, a place far worse than the situation he is in
right now. He does not fear death, but he fears what comes after and this decision leads him into not committing suicide and continuing his mission to kill Claudius.
A turning point for Hamlet occurs in the graveyard scene in Act V When he sees
Yorick’s skull in the graveyard. Hamlet escapes the trap Claudius set up for him. Claudius sent him to England where he was to be killed,