Hamlet And Suicide Essay

1506 words - 6 pages

Shakespeare's Hamlet, was written during the Renaissance period. The Renaissance valued the accomplishments of the Greek and Romans (Guisepi). The intellectuals of this period wished to recover what was lost during the Middle Ages. For that reason the Renaissance is known as a "rebirth" of art and culture (Guisepi). Hamlet, is one of Shakespeare's well known plays. It is a tragedy because the plot allows for great suffering of the "hero" or main character. In the play, the tragic hero, Hamlet, is visited by the ghost of his father. His father had died a month before, and his mother has remarried. From the ghost Hamlet learns that his uncle, Claudius, who had just married his mother, murdered his father. Throughout the play Hamlet seeks to prove the ghost is being truthful and to take revenge on Claudius. Due the situations in the play certain themes arise. One major theme is the idea of suicide. There is an emphasis on the supernatural in Shakespeare's plays. During the Renaissance, the idea of suicide was considered to be a crime and a mortal sin. Shakespeare handles the topic in several different ways. In Hamlet, suicide is an important theme. Throughout the play, Shakespeare makes it clear that although most people are capable of committing suicide, they still choose life over death.
The Renaissance was the first time when the Bible was printed in a language other than Latin, so that the common farmers could read the word of God for themselves. The Catholic church was opposed to this. The Renaissance held similar views as the church, when regarding suicide (Cholbi). Suicide was considered a sin, and was also against the law during this period (Ferngren 155). Often those who had committed suicide were denied consecrated ground to be buried in as punishment (Cholbi 155). It is stated by Thomas Aquinas that "suicide was contrary to natural law and self-love; that it deprived society of the contribution and activity of an individual; and that it usurped the function of God" (Ferngren 155). Aquinas views towards suicide fallow the same outlooks of those during the Renaissance. The character Ophelia, in Hamlet, is driven mad after several tragic events, and ultimately drowns. It is though that she committed suicide, due to the fact that she fell into the water and did not try to get up. The beginning of the fifth act shows two gravediggers who are discussing the grave in which they are digging. They are arguing over the fact that the person for which they are digging the grave was drowned, and shouldn't be allowed consecrated ground, as stated by Christian Law. They go on to discuss that those who carry a certain status can get away with such things. In this scene Shakespeare clearly states the views of suicide during the Renaissance. Throughout the play Shakespeare comments multiple times on the topic of suicide. Hamlet along with other characters contemplate the notion of suicide.
Of those who contemplate suicide, Hamlet is the one who...

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