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Soliloquies Of Shakespeare's Hamlet Hamlet's Third Soliloquy

978 words - 4 pages

Hamlet's Third Soliloquy  

 

One of Shakespeare's most celebrated works is the play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet, the main character, endures many of the misfortunes of life that the average - and not-so average - person might suffer. Hamlet's father dies a suspicious death and his mother hastily remarries, he bears the trauma of a lost relationship with a girl he seems to truly love, realizes the truth about his own uncle's involvement in his father's death, and experiences all of this in the public eye. What makes Hamlet's character particularly captivating in comparison to most of Shakespeare's others is the fact that he seems to really come alive with thought and emotion. Hamlet goes through the motions of the grief following the loss of his father and the sense of betrayal he feels when he learns that Claudius is responsible for the death, not to mention the fact that his mother quickly married the murderer. The weight of these emotions pushes Hamlet to the edge of his limits, and soon he reaches the point of contemplating death.

           In the first scene of the third act, Hamlet utters a thoughtful soliloquy regarding the matters of life and suicide. This soliloquy seems to be one of the most believable moments in a Shakespearean play, as every person faces at least one such dramatic, self-contemplative moment in a lifetime. The reader or audience is able to understand Hamlet's thoughts despite Shakespeare's thick and lengthy writing style. Hamlet here begins with the famous line, "To be or not to be - that is the question" (III, i, 64), a line quite often copied or even satired due to its candor and depth. Hamlet immediately lets on that he is pondering life and death, and weighing his options. He continues to discuss whether it would be better to "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or… end them" (III, i, 65-70). Hamlet is very obviously tired of the weary life he leads - he is constantly weighed down by the death of his father and the betrayal of his mother, and the audience is never quite sure which is heavier. For quite some time, it has been his lot to suffer either by choice as he wallows in his unhappiness, or involuntarily as he deals with the actions of others. So then, he asks himself, would it be better to end his life than to continue to endure the injustices of living? His contemplation extends further, employing the comparison of death with sleep. In this sleep, Hamlet muses, one can escape the "heartache and the thousand natural shocks" (III, i, 70) of human life. If death is a form of sleep, then the afterlife must be a dream. Humans associate dreams of the pleasant variety with respite, and dreams of the frightening variety with torment. "To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death...

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