Hamlet's Reflection About The Purpose Of Life In Shakespearean Drama
In the play, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet is the son of the late King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. After the death of Hamlet’s father, Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius was made the new King of Denmark, since he married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Even though Hamlet was next in line, Claudius was still made the new King due to his seniority and experience with politics.When his father died, Hamlet was confused and contemplating death. He is asking himself about the purpose of his living and if it should be more appropriate for him to die.
Hamlet explored the purpose of his life by questioning the reality and ideas of death, questioning how his life would be after death. He doesn’t go into too deep of any ideas of what life would be like if he died, clearly fearful of his own propositions. Hamlet finds himself answering the question during his interventions with the ghost king hamlet, after such he goes into a deeper exploration to find his reasoning behind death and even suicide, but comes to the conclusion his death might bear more than he initially thought.
The Ghost of King Hamlet is seen throughout the book as a purpose for Hamlet’s revenge against his uncle but is also a contemplation on whether he should believe if such a ghost exists. He argues with himself if the Ghost is in reality Death, or the Grim Reaper, tricking him to act on justice or revenge, or to instead kill himself. Hamlet wonders if his purpose to his life is to get justice against his father by killing his uncle, confuses him since murdering another man is a sinful duty. Hamlet is clearly torn on either side wondering if death is telling him to act on revenge or the ghost telling him to act on justice.
When he questioned his choices between life and death, he believes that his pain and troubles will end. As death is still something he finds fascinating, questioning if death was to be like dreaming. He even believed that if he commits suicide, with ‘a bare bodkin’, or to what roughly translates to as, a small dagger, that he will fix any issues to come. If he does commit suicide and die, then he might avoid issues that are hard to deal with, or the ‘whips and scorns’
But then death also troubles him, when he questions what death is, describing it as nothing more than a dream. He instead worries that the dreams will instead become nightmares and that in those nightmares he will endure agony, ‘in that sleep of death what dreams may come’. Hamlet states that death is an ‘undiscover’d country’ and also concerned on how his soul might be tormented in the afterlife, since he committed suicide, as his current life is tortuous and painful, ‘Who would fardels bears’.
He decides he would rather live than committing suicide and risk offending God, believing that fear ‘puzzles the will’ then the mysterious and ‘dreadful’ afterlife. The fear of arriving in some ‘undiscover’d country’ is frightening to Hamlet. Hamlet concludes that most people tend to see things differently, but lack determination and do nothing to change their situation. Hamlet is the perfect example of a overburdened man looking for the answers to the unsolvable question.
‘To be or not to be?’
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.
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