As one of the most well-known literary works, the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare discloses numerous significant moral issues. Among the range of problems and concerns, depicted by the author, the theme of death appears to be one of the prominent. As well as the protagonist of the play, Hamlet, has purely analytical mind, he used to think of the general laws of the Universe seeing the particular cases. At Yorick’s grave, Hamlet reflects on what happens to the earthly glory after death, including the arrogance of the court, fussy assentation of servants, valor of the military commanders, and female beauty. It is important to mention that the theme of death is considered in the play impermanence of all things. The death is presented in the tragedy from the beginning till the end. It reveals with the appearance of the ghost of the murdered King. During the action, Polonius is killed, Ophelia drowns, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern go to death, the poisoned Queen dies, Laertes dies, Hamlet’s revenge finally reaches Claudius. By the end of the play, Hamlet dies as well, being a victim of Laertes’ and Claudius’ treachery.
Hamlet often speaks of death. Soon after his first appearance, Hamlet provides the viewers with a concealed thought that life becomes so disgusting that he would have committed the suicide if it is not considered a sin. The deepest reflection of the death is in Hamlet’s monolog, known as “To be or not to be.” In this monolog, the protagonist is interested in the mystery of death and its essence. Hamlet perceives “Life that is bound for the disintegration of the grave” (Bloom 264). Besides, he meditates whether the death is a continuation of the same sufferings, happened to a person in earthly life. Hamlet makes the emphasis that fear of the unknown often makes people strive to avoid any thought of the death.
It is interesting that Hamlet focuses on the thoughts of death, when being attacked by occasional facts and painful doubts. He cannot view the life directly, as everything moves too fast around him. In the condition, when it is impossible to catch hold, Hamlet chooses to think of the death as the true solution. The death is considered a question for Hamlet, which lies between to be and not to be, as the protagonist does not know for sure what is better: “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?” (Shakespeare 37). To be means to think, to believe, and to act in accordance with beliefs for Hamlet. However, the more he knows the people and life in its essence, the more clearly it is that he is powerless to crush the evil.
In conclusion, the theme of death appears to be one of the most valuable in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Being inevitable for the play, it is the reason of the deepest concern and thoughtful reflection for the protagonist. Death is the strongest power on the earth, as it is the result of any suffering, struggling, and emotional pain. Hamlet’s analytical relation to death provides a clear vision of a true philosophy of death, full of stoicism. According to Hamlet, the death is both the true mystery and the end of any uncertainty. The protagonist is sure that only death can provide him with the answers and major concerns. Obviously, the death means a specific type of pride, greatness, and fortitude for Hamlet. The death is closely connected with the ideals of the tragic hero, which are indestructible, majestic, and full of fight against evil, inequality, and unfairness.
- Bloom, Harold. Hamlet. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. London: Proprietors, 1818. Print.