“To be, or not to be”(III. 1. 57) is one of the most famous lines in William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. In the soliloquy of Act III scene one, Hamlet juggles around the idea of life or death. Hamlets soliloquy lays out his conception on whether he shall continue to live miserably or commit suicide. The soliloquy also reveals one of Hamlet’s fears. Hamlet’s monologue creates strong visualizations of his options “To be or not to be” (III. 1. 57).
In this soliloquy, Hamlet is flustered and ponders the idea of committing suicide. Why is hamlet confused and thinking about committing suicide? Hamlet is overwhelmed about the news of his father’s death he has heard from the Ghost. He is baffled on whether to continue struggling through his misfortune or to contest against his troubles in life, specifically the revenge to justify his father. “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? ” (III. 1. 58-60).
This quote is an implied comparison of Hamlet asking himself if he should continue to suffer by all the wrongs that he speculates as “outrageous fortune” (III. 1. 58 ) or to put up a fight against his miseries. Hamlet then starts to think death may resolve all of his issues. Hamlet compares death to sleep, “and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks. ” (III. 1. 61-62). Therefore if he were to sleep all of his “heart-ache” (III. 1. 62) problems would wash away. Hamlet then begins to consider that if one were to die, ”to sleep” (III. . 60), there are possibilities of dreams. In other words just because one is dies physically, does not mean he or she will rest peacefully. As Hamlet’s metaphors begin to unfold so does his identity. There is a sense of fear lingering as Hamlet starts to discuss the chance of struggle after death.
Though Hamlet is only weighing out his options “to be or not to be” (III. 1. 57), he begins mentally to steer away from the suicide considerations due to the unknown outcomes after death. “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled? (III. 1. 66-67). Hamlet realizes that if one were to commit suicide there is no proof that peacefulness will be granted after they die. “ay, there’s the rub” (III. 1. 65) and that is where he realizes that there is a catch to committing suicide. Hamlet is fearful of not knowing what would happen after one commits suicide. And for that very reason I believe that’s why he hasn’t killed himself already. “But that the dread of something after death” (III. 1. 68), the “but”, is the hesitation that feeds the idea that Hamlet fears the unexpected after death.
This soliloquy gives the idea that the obstacle brought forward is the unsung aftermath behind death. “No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others we know not of? ” (III. 1. 80-82). Lines 80-82 are very significant for multiple reasons. “No traveler returns, puzzles the will” (III. 1. 80-82), implies those that have gone down the road of suicide have not come back to indicate struggles or “dreams” after life. Therefore the unknown afterlife makes individuals reconsider suicide, such as Hamlet.
As a result the individuals “us” and “we”, like Hamlet, end up accepting the troubles they’re going through rather than “fly to others we know not of” (III. 1. 83). The fact that afterlife is unrevealed, Hamlet continues to live aware of his uncle’s actions, the soliloquy has not encouraged Hamlet to take further conduct into any matter. Though I do believe that Hamlet’s contemplations did steer him away for committing suicide mainly because of the fear of dreams or struggles after death.
Hamlet continues to remain inactive on taking actions for his father’s death because of his conscience. To sum up Hamlets soliloquy in Act 3 scene 1 it’s pretty fair to say the main idea was “to be, or not to be”. Hamlets consciences reveal that he fears the consequences of committing suicide. Hamlet remains frustrated and confused about the actions he will take in his future, mainly in regards to his father’s death.
Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” Literature and its Writers. 1204 1306. Ann/ Samuel Charters. Boston: Belfords/St. Martins,2010. Print
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