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An Analysis Of Mortality In Hamlet By William Shakespeare

2547 words - 10 pages

William Sheng
Dr. Beall
English 10
February 20, 2014
Hamlet Out Of Class Essay
Analysis of Mortality

In his tragedy Hamlet, William Shakespeare explores and analyzes the concept of mortality and the inevitability of death through the development of Hamlet’s understanding and ideology regarding the purpose for living. Through Hamlet’s obsessive fascination in understanding the purpose for living and whether death is the answer, Shakespeare analyzes and interprets the meaning of different elements of mortality and death: The pain death causes to others, the fading of evidence of existence through death, and the reason for living. While due to the inevitable and unsolvable mystery of the uncertainty of death, as no being will ever empirically experience death and be able to tell the tale, Shakespeare offers an answer to the reason for living through an analysis of Hamlet’s development in understanding death.
Shakespeare shows the ideology of death internalizing within Hamlet first with Hamlet’s emotions following the death of Old Hamlet. In the scene in which Hamlet is introduced, Hamlet is portrayed as an embodiment of death, dressed in “suits of a solemn black”(1.2.81) and has “dejected havior of the visage”(1.2.84). Hamlet’s physical representation as death signifies his lack of desire to continue living himself, being detached and discontent with the world around him. Hamlet, in his first soliloquy, opens by stating, “Sullied flesh would melt/Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,/ Or that the Everlasting had not fixed/His canon ‘gainst Self Slaughter!”(1.2.133-135). This is significant, as it shows Hamlet’s full willingness to commit suicide and end Hamlet’s internal pain, if not for suicide being a sin under religion. The reason for Hamlet’s desire for death and his distain for life originates from more than just the death of Old Hamlet itself, however. As Hamlet’s emotional connection to Old Hamlet is shown to be very little in the following scenes, Hamlet’s pain is rooted strongly from the fact that Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, made the decision to marry Claudius, Old Hamlet’s brother, very shortly after Old Hamlet’s death. Hamlet grows in anger when Hamlet concludes his first soliloquy with scathing criticism of Hamlet’s mother, saying, “She married./ O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!”(1.2.162-163). Hamlet’s frustration with his mother, does not only go as far to the fact that she has moved on from Hamlet’s father, but furthermore the act of Hamlet’s mother moving on from Old Hamlet so quickly explores the possibility that after death, one can be forgotten. Furthermore, if one can truly be so easily forgotten, then the significance and importance of life is lost, and that understanding is what truly causes Hamlet’s initial struggle to grasp the purpose of living. Through Hamlet’s internal struggle, Shakespeare offers an introduction in Hamlet’s first soliloquy into Hamlet’s thought process...

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