Hamlet: Death and Life Essay

Submitted By jordantkuhn
Words: 1846
Pages: 8

Development of Presentation: Hamlet Death is one of the main underlying themes in William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. More specifically, the nothingness and mystery of death is what opened up and inspired Hamlet to act the way that he does throughout the entire play. As the play continues to progress, the audience notices another character, Laertes, start to question the meaning of death as well. Our presentation focused on Act Five, Scene One, where Hamlet and Laertes fight each other over death and what it means. The two characters acknowledge death but for different reasons, and will fight to the death in order to prove their reason. However, before we can look at and understand act five, scene one, we must first look at the beginning of the play when Hamlet is determining what death is and the morals that are involved with it. Once it is all put together, the audience grasps a better understanding of the central theme of death and its nothingness. It isn’t until after the murder of his father that Hamlet starts to obsess over death and the uncertainties involved with death. There are two main concepts that Hamlet really obsesses over and cannot seem to figure out: the spiritual aftermath of death, and the physical remainders of the dead. Hamlet has a hard time deciphering those concepts, because he lived on a basic life premise: we are born, we live, and we die. At this point in time, nobody had ever returned from death to report what happened, therefore everyone had fallen to ignorance of what death actually portends. When Hamlet first encounters the ghost of King Hamlet he doesn’t know what to think. The ghost tells him to seek revenge against Claudius for his deceased father’s sake and to take back the land of Denmark which was rightfully his. He cannot actually determine if the ghost is that of his dad’s or the ghost of a devil. Or, could the ghost just be a mere illusion to the young, over-thinking, and sometimes crazy, Hamlet? Hamlet understands that if he does decide to kill Claudius for his father’s sake, which Hamlet will indeed die as well for his actions. So, Hamlet was left with a choice to make: kill Claudius, therefore resulting in the acknowledgement of his own death, or leave Claudius alive and be tormented by dreams and the ghost of his father while he still lived and continued to live a suffering life. However, there was actually another choice Hamlet could make as well: suicide. Hamlet gave suicide a real serious consideration in an attempt to end his suffering. To this point in time, life was the only thing that Hamlet knew to be certain, and he was fearful of the uncertain (death). Hamlet hopes that death will end all suffering in life, “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!” (3.1.60) Hamlet’s intention behind that quote is his hope that death will end thinking, knowing, and remembering, and that all of his suffering and pain will be left behind in the dust of the earth. However, being that death is uncertain, Hamlet also wonders if he will be haunted by bad dreams of his previous life and all the pain and fear that he once possessed in the after-life. Based on the uncertainties, Hamlet chooses to neglect the idea of suicide: for now.
Hamlet concludes that people fear death because they are afraid that their consciences will torment them forever, even in the after-life. Having that said humans choose life and the torments and burdens involved with life in order to avoid death; the great unknown. However, Hamlet realizes that death and life are eerily similar in that they are both inescapable and that all people will experience both. Hamlet has decided to let his conscious stop getting the best of him, and decides to accept the quest to kill Claudius. By doing this, Hamlet has accepted his death, and in some weird way, he has acknowledged his own suicide as well. It is the inescapable way of life: we are born,