In the play, Hamlet, Shakespeare leaves you wondering about death. Through the characters in the play, he reveals his own thoughts about death. Does Shakespeare portray a deep understanding of death in this play? The never-ending cycle of death and revenge is evident throughout the entire play.
The play opens up with death already at the door. Hamlet is left with not only a deceased father and no clue as to what ended his life, but must also deal with his uncle taking the throne in his place. His father, in the after-life figure of a ghost, speaks to Hamlet. Informing him of his death and, in turn, setting about the first thoughts of revenge. ”Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (I.v.25). As with every character in the play, Old Hamlet’s life was taken for one person’s selfishness or greed. His life was taken by the hands of his own brother for the power of being King.
In order to ensure that his uncle was indeed the man who took his father’s life, Hamlet looked upon his reaction in a play that re-enacted the method in which he took his life. Sure enough as soon as the deadly liquid was poured into the actor’s ear, the face of guilt overcame King Claudius. Hamlet became enraged and filled within his heart, vengeance and hatred. Hamlet’s quest for revenge would be the reaction that will set about the deaths of it’s unsuspecting victims.
Hamlet’s death is assured from his own obsession with death in the early part of the play. It seems as though Hamlet has gone mad and no longer values life, not even his own. His madness stems from Old Hamlet’s ghost exacting revenge; finding out his uncle murdered his father, and his mother’s cluelessness. All of these things combine to turn Hamlet into a heartless killer. One of his first victims was Polonius, an accidental murder but a murder nonetheless. This murder triggers the anger of Polonius’s son, Laertes in which he will exact revenge upon Hamlet. King Claudius uses this to his advantage. Knowing that Hamlet is out to take his life he encourages Laertes to seek vengeance for his father’s death. Hamlet challenges Polonius to a sword fight despite Polonius’s reputation for being a great swordsman. This dual would be the end of the two young men. The deaths of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz was plotted by Hamlet himself. This act of plotted killing just shows how heartless a killer he has become because these two individuals did not have to die and Hamlet had no real reason for getting them killed.
In the soliloquy “To be, or not to be: that is the question” spoken by Hamlet, he discusses his views on death (III.i.56). In this scene he is contemplating his thoughts on suicide, death, life, and the afterlife as he awaits his meeting with Claudius. He reflects on whether the afterlife will have the same problems as his current life. He also shares his thoughts on death in another scene where he is a graveyard. Hamlet basically says you die and become food for the worms and then you are...