Essay Metaphor in Hamlet

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Metaphor in Hamlet

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III scene 1, Hamlet’s soliloquy of “To be or not to be” is full of metaphors that bring the various themes of the play together. One of the primary themes of the play is Hamlet’s uncertainty of action and inability to decide how to cope with the problems he faces. In Hamlet’s soliloquy, Hamlet metaphorically discusses his indecisiveness about the importance of continuing his life and asks himself “whether ‘tis nobler of the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing them, end them.” Hamlet wonders whether it is worth facing all his problems (“slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”) or to commit suicide (“and by
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When Hamlet lists the obstacles in life, he is ready with far too many examples. He refers to “th’ oppressors wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th’ unworthy takes.” In Hamlet’s depression, even everyday things become painful and terrible. He refers to love as “pangs of despised love,” making the beauty of love a metaphor for pain and torment. He is angered by trivial things such as “the law’s delay” (the slowness of justice) and he sees insolence in seemingly harmless things, such as holding office (“the insolence of office.”) Hamlet’s comments about the worthlessness of the world around him give the reader a glimpse into his tortured psyche.

Another theme of the play is Hamlet’s obsession with death and the afterlife, brought about by his father’s untimely death and his own doubts concerning whether or not life is worth living. He metaphorically compares death to sleep, and wonders “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come.” Hamlet is afraid to commit suicide because he does not know what awaits him on the other side. Hamlet refers to death as “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” He fears death as an unknown and possibly terrible thing. Hamlet decides that it is better “bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.” Hamlet

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