Suicide In Hamlet Essay

1536 words - 6 pages

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, suicide is treated differently on the aspects of religion, morals, and philosophical views. Suicide is the act of deliberately killing yourself in contrary to your own best interests. In today’s society suicide is highly looked down upon. But Shakespeare used suicide and violence in almost all of his most popular plays. Many of his tragedies used the element of suicide, some accomplished, others merely contemplated. Shakespeare used suicide as a dramatic device. A character’s suicide could promote a wide range of emotions: horror, condemnation to pity, and even respect. Some of his suicides could even take titles like the noble soldier, the violated woman, and star-crossed lovers. In Othello, Othello see suicide as the only escape from the pangs and misery of life. In The Rape of Lucrece, Lucrece kills herself after being raped because she cannot live with her shame. And in Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers could not find happiness if life, so death was perceived as a way that they could be united with each other. Shakespeare was dealing with a very controversial subject: Was it right to end life in order to escape the cruel and unjust world? In the time of the Renaissance, many things had an impact on suicide such as religion, morals, and aesthetic views.
In ancient history suicide was condemned to be a morally wrong sin. Plato claimed that suicide was shameful and its perpetrators should be buried in unmarked graves. When the Christian Prohibition came into play a man by the name of St. Thomas Aquinas defended the prohibition on three grounds. These are that suicide is contrary to natural self-love, whose aim is to preserve us. Suicide injures the community of which the individual is a part of. Suicide violates God because God gave us life as a gift and in taking our lives we violate His right to determine how long we live upon the earth. During the Renaissance, the discovery of some of these ancient texts was a main spur for the ideas that followed the Renaissance. Most of the Renaissance intellectuals generally affirmed with the ideas of the church about suicide. In Shakespeare’s time suicide had become a paradoxical issue. On one side of the matter it carried the medieval Christian associations of shame and despair. On the other side it was seen as a noble and courageous act in the growing Renaissance tradition. In Hamlet the Christian view of suicide is best played out at Ophelia’s funeral. Her ceremony is very perfunctory and she can only be buried in consecrated grounds, grudgingly because of Ophelia’s high connections. Instead Shakespeare’s plays pity his characters problems which drive them to commit suicide and some approval for their courage. Hamlet has a reluctance to commit suicide because of his religion that he believes in. In his first soliloquy he states “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,/ Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,/ or that the Everlasting had not fixed/ his canon ‘gainst self...

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