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Hamlet’s famous and memorable soliloquy, “To be, or not to be,” provides us with insight on the different emotions Shakespeare places into Hamlet’s character. This soliloquy is spoken by Prince Hamlet in Act III, scene I, lines 62-96. It is arguably one of the most famous speeches in English literature and reflects many important themes of the play, Hamlet. Through this soliloquy, we discover several aspects of Hamlet’s mysterious and elusive character.
The three main themes that show us more into Hamlet’s character are his question of whether he should commit suicide, his uncertainty of the afterlife, and his logical “in the moment” decision making.
Will suicide be the correct path to take? The first and most legendary line of this soliloquy, “To be, or not to be…” (III. i. 62), Hamlet discusses possible suicide. He is faced with the question of whether he should commit suicide in the cruel world he lives in. He wonders if it is better to suffer through all the brutalities of the world around him, “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer” (III.
. 63) or end them by simply killing himself.
Hamlet has the right to contemplate this question. He has been betrayed by many he loves and sees no point in living or being around disloyalty anymore, however, he knows he must stay alive to avenge his father’s death. This gives us a better look at Hamlet’s elusive character because we see how faithful he is, especially towards his father.
He has many thoughts of taking his own life but knows he must be strong and retaliate for the death of his father. The uncertainty of an afterlife
In the soliloquy, Hamlet initially believes that suicide will stop his suffering but rethinks the idea and realizes he is uncertain of what might happen to him after he takes his life. Hamlet knows the easiest thing for him to do at this point is commit suicide but contemplates the idea because he wonders what might come of him in the afterlife, “the dread of something after death…the undiscovered country” (III. i. 84-85). He explains a list of his miseries and elaborates on the idea that “the dread of something after death” (III. i. 84) makes one live with their suffering rather go onto a more miserable afterlife.
Hamlet’s elusive character is scared of death but also the living fear of the ultimate unknown. Although Hamlet is uncertain of what may occur after life he is part of the Protestant church which believed at the time that there was indeed a heaven and hell. Hamlet realizes the idea of the dreadful after life means he cannot end his own life, which shows how strong his character is to be able to live with his agonies. Logical Thinker Hamlet’s elusive character is unwrapped even further as we see his ability to think logically at times of distress.
Hamlet wishes to commit suicide however questions the consequences, “to be or not to be-that is the question” (III. i. 62). When the thought of suicide first appears in Hamlet’s mind, he does not immediately follow his wishes and kill himself. He contemplates this thought and rethinks the idea immensely. Hamlet’s melancholy character, which works frantically to find a solution to his pain clashes with his logical intellect. Ultimately, Hamlet makes the right decision by not committing suicide. Throughout this soliloquy, “To be, or not to be,” Hamlet questions his life on earth.
He is not sure if he wants to live any longer and has many thoughts of ending his life. He wishes to be loyal to his father and avenge the death of him. He is also unsure of what evil things could become of him in the afterlife due to his religious beliefs. Hamlet is very logical in his decisions. In the moment, he wishes to no longer live but his elusive intellectual brain tells him he must not end his life. After much contemplation, Hamlet decides not to kill himself. This reveals the logical and intelligent quality of Hamlet’s mind.
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