Hamlet by William Shakespeake

January 14, 2011
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Many people have felt sadness, and some have even contemplating their own life. Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies “To be or not to be...” from Hamlet is where Hamlet is contemplating his own life. Many people have heard of this soliloquy, but not everyone knows what it really means. It is performed in the third act in scene one by the main character, Hamlet. As Claudius, Polonius, and Ophelia are watching, Hamlet does his soliloquy without knowing they are there. During his speech, Hamlet portrays himself as a very confused human being through literary and poetic elements.

The first question Hamlet asks is, “To be, or not to be?” (3,1,58) This is the most important part of his whole soliloquy due to his tone. Hamlet is obviously questioning his life, but it is so much deeper than that. Hamlet doesn’t say to be alive, or not to be alive, which is much more specific; since he does not explain, the question is the mere existence of himself. Hamlet continues to question why people would put themselves through all the pain of life. He is obviously very depressed, and he shows it through the words he chooses. He goes on to considered the pros and cons on death, and ponders “After all, who would put up with all life’s humiliations” (3,1,70). Most people would find their life worth living, and to say that there is no reason to live shows that he is lost. He does not know what he is fighting for: his dad, Ophelia, or himself? Hamlet continues on about how terrible the after life is, “And makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of” (3,1,81). He says that people just stick to the answers they know, instead of going and looking for other answers. He goes on about how actions get undirected, “And enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their
currents turn awry” (3,1,87) He then says that these actions are not even actions anymore, so what are they? He then is interrupted as Ophelia comes in, and does not
get to finish. Hamlet is confused now that he has gotten this far; he does not know what to do, which is why he questions death in the first place.

Not only does Hamlet question death, but he questions everything; he is an over analyzer, and he shows this through descriptive images. He describes death as dreaming, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (3,1,67) He does not say what kind of dreams may come because he does not know. He does not even want to think of what kind of dreams, or nightmares, would come. Hamlet goes on and says why would one not just simply take out their knife and kill themselves, but due to the, “dread of something after death,” (3,1,78) he would not do so. This leaves an image of a something terrible in an after life; something that one might not even be able to imagine. Not to mention, the idea of just stabbing oneself, is very gruesome and gory. He says it so effortlessly too like it is not really a big deal at all. It does not just make one think of the images, but the pain as well. He continues on about how the afterlife is, “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns,” (3,1,80-81). Hamlet, himself, cannot even imagine what this undiscovered country would be; he does know that is terrible, though. He says that no one returns from there, which means it must be bad. He is very descriptive and detailed with his imagery, and it comes off dark. He does not completely know how dark it is though, which shows that he is confused.

Hamlet also likes to use figurative language. He asks himself if he should put up with everything “or to take arms against a sea of troubles” (3,1,60). The sea has an end, but one cannot see if they were looking out at the ocean; there is the horizon,
which makes it look never-ending. Hamlet knows that he has troubles, but he thinks that the only solution is to just kill himself or to kill Claudius. Then he talks about death
as a sleep, “And by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,” (3,1,62-64). To say death is just sleeping, is something you would say to a child who has lost a grandfather or something, so they don’t think it is bad. The way that Hamlet says it though, makes it more scary. Hamlet also goes on to
ask why someone would put themselves through the pain of life, “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time” (3,1,70). He compares his troubles and problems to something as terrible as whips and scorns, which sounds emotionally and physically painful. He is very literal with what he compares his problems too, but he still comes off confused.

Hamlet is a very confused man, and does not what to do. He is dealing with the idea of suicide, over analyzing, and all his emotions; he shows this through his imagery, tone, and figurative language. He does not just show this in the soliloquy , but he shows this character throughout the whole play. In the end, he ends up dying due to all





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