Hamlet Critical Essay, Research Paper
In Shakespeare s play “Hamlet” the thoughts of the characters can be inferred through their words and actions. They are all addressing a fact of human thought that Shakespeare wanted to give emphasis to. Hamlet s human question is one that haunts humans, of all ages, races, cultures, and monetary situations. It is the question of life or death. He has many tragic events occur in his life in a short period of time that would make any person contemplate the benefits of life. Although Hamlet has many reasons to take his own life, he chooses against it because of ,among others, his plan to revenge the death of his father. Hamlet probably was expected to become a powerful and respected King like his father. Hamlet probably expected this of himself as well his family and members of the court. Ophelia describes Hamlet here “O, what a noble mind is here o erthrown! The courtier s, soldier s, scholar s, eye, tongue, sword: The expectancy and rose of the fair state, the glass of fashion and the mould of form, The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!”(Hamlet III,i). That quote tells how he was expected to be a courtier, soldier, scholar, and have many other positions of high importance. It also tells how she has seen him go from being promising in these areas to having his mind overthrown. The pressure of these expectations before his father s death was probably manageable, but with the stress of the loss, and the disappointment of his mothers remarriage, he must have been feeling a greater strain than one could imagine. Although he had planned his insanity so he could trick Claudius, he still was too neurotic and showed too many characteristics of insanity to not be. This insanity was also brought on by the ghost of his father appearing to him in the night to ask him to revenge his murder. The mere appearance of a ghost would make some think that there were going insane. Also, to learn that your father was murdered by his brother would make you question the motivations of all people. It would make one ponder on the existence of oneself, or if it would be better to just be dead. One can see Hamlet s inner struggle in his first soliloquy, “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix d his cannon gainst self-slaughter!,,, How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!”(Hamlet I,ii). Early in this play death seems like the best way to end his problems. He would have been able to, but God s law denies it. Hamlet is also considering death because of the events that happened to his father and way that his mother remarried are too much for him to handle at the same time. Any person is sure to grieve for the death of their father, or husband, such as the case with Hamlet and Gertrude. Gertrude, however, maybe because of vulnerability, remarries with the King s brother within two months of the death. This would send any child into a deeper misunderstanding of the world, during a period when they are just trying to find out what life means to them any ways. Then to add more to the situation, he learns from the Ghost that Claudius murdered his father. This news would send the kid into either a vicious rage or a downward spiral of more grief and sorrow. In Hamlet s case he had a combination of the two. His thoughts for remaining alive are interwoven with the thoughts for killing himself. First, he thought that his mother was extremely important to him, and she would be devastated if both he and his father were to die. Hamlet is very honest with his mother and exhibits “tough love” with his mother in the closet scene when he tells her that she is wrong for marrying her brother-in-law. He also knows that she is still shaken up by her husbands death, and that he is a vital part of her life, from the aspect that she receives much joy in watching him grow up. So from these aspects, he wants to remain alive for the sake of his mother.
Another reason Hamlet has for living is the unknown of life after death. This aspect is concentrated on in the “To be, or not to be” speech in the third act. From the very first six words the reader knows what is on Hamlet s mind; life or death. The debate is in the rest of the speech, however. He knows that he is extremely unhappy with his present situation. One can tell this from these lines, “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”(Hamlet III,i). Hamlet no longer wants to hear, think or be troubled with the scrutiny that has to do with the controversy over the death and remarriage. The part that catches him, however, is the afterlife. He addresses that in this passage, ” To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there s the rub”(Hamlet III,i). Hamlet is thinking out loud to himself at this point. He is trying to work things out in his mind and make the decision that makes the most sense to him. The chance that there might be an afterlife would be bad if he were to go to hell for committing suicide, but would it be worse if there was no afterlife? That is the question that Hamlet is boiling over in this speech, and ultimately plays a integral part in his decision not to commit suicide. Finally, the most important reason that Hamlet could find for not committing suicide is to avenge the murder of his father by Claudius. It was also the hardest decision to make, because it was the ghost of his father that told him this, and although the ghost was seen by three people at one time, it is still hard to believe a ghost would even appear. The ghost, however, is respected and treated with the respect that the King would have received if he were still alive, as shown by Hamlet s lines here, ” I ll call thee Hamlet, King, father, royal Dane: “(Hamlet I,v). That shows that he will put confidence in what the ghost says to him. The other way that the audience could tell that he is living to seek revenge is the way he pretends to be insane to trick the people of Denmark and hopefully let down the guard of the King. Why else would he perform such an intricate and elaborate plan to make everyone think that he is crazy? This must have been a reason for his decision to live.In conclusion, the debate in Hamlet s mind whether to take his own life or to remain living was won by the reasons to live because, among other reasons, the chance to seek revenge against his Uncle for murdering the King. The two traumatic events that occurred during the two previous months would probably be enough to make a person kill themselves, however, there usually is a debate in the person s head that weighs the pros and cons. In the case of Hamlet the pros outweighed the cons and, thus, Hamlet remained alive to seek revenge on Claudius.