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Suicide Soliloquy In Hamlet Essay

1469 words - 6 pages

William Shakespeare is a famous English playwright. His play Hamlet centers around Hamlet's decision on how to seek revenge for his father’s death. However, Hamlet is unsure of what course of action he wants to take to exact his revenge. He discusses the idea of suicide as a possible option in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy. In this soliloquy, Shakespeare uses metaphors, rhetorical questions, and repetition to express Hamlet’s indecision regarding what he should do.
Shakespeare uses metaphors to express Hamlet’s view of life, death, and the afterlife. Hamlet first introduces the idea of suicide as a way to end the sufferings of life: “and by a sleep to say we end/ The heartache and the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is heir to” (III. i. 69-71). Here, Shakespeare uses the word sleep to refer to death and the heartaches and shocks as the struggles of life. There is also a peace in sleeping that Hamlet wants to obtain in death. By using these metaphors, Shakespeare shows the simplicity of death compared to the hardships of life. This is especially evident with Hamlet because the revenge he is seeking is much more difficult than giving up and taking his own life out of grief. Hamlet then continues to express his fear in thoughts of suicide: “To die, to sleep---/ To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,/ For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,/ Must give us pause. There’s the respect/ That makes calamity of so long life” (III. i. 72-77). The dream that Shakespeare is referring to is the afterlife, continuing with the metaphor of sleeping as dying. The question of the dreams that will come is Shakespeare’s way of expressing the unknown state of a soul after death. The dreams can either bring Hamlet peace or torment even after he has died. Shakespeare also incorporates irony in this soliloquy because Hamlet is indecisive in living and he is indecisive in dying too; either way, Hamlet is unable to make a decision. Shakespeare also incorporates religious undertones in this soliloquy because of the metaphor of the afterlife and the dreams that may come. Hamlet eventually comes to a decision to not take his life because he is afraid of the unknown: “Thus conscience does make cowards / And thus the native hue of resolution/ Is o’er with the pale cast of thought,/ And enterprises of great pitch and moment/ With this regard their currents turn awry/ And lose the name of action” (III. i. 91-96). With his decision, Shakespeare is expressing the conscience as the logical part of Hamlet that is afraid because he does not know what would come with death. The metaphor in lines ninety-two and ninety-three is referring to the instinctual action of suicide overpowered by fears. Shakespeare is saying that even though sleep may bring Hamlet peace, he is too afraid of the dreams that may come to go through with the thought of taking his own life. The metaphors that Shakespeare uses...

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