Topic of Death in Hamlet Essay

1428 Words 6 Pages
Death in Hamlet

Being that death is a universally explored topic, William Shakespeare, a master of English literature, opted to thoroughly investigate this complex notion in his play Hamlet. Shakespeare cleverly and sometimes subtly brings the reader/viewer through a physical and spiritual journey of death via the several controversial characters of Hamlet. The chief element of this expedition is undoubtedly the funerals. Every funeral depicts, and marks, the conclusion of different perceptions of death. Shakespeare uses the funerals of the several controversial characters to gradually transform the simple, spiritual, naïve, and somewhat light view of death into a much more factual, physical, serious, and down to earth outlook.
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Not too later, when Hamlet is mourning the death of his father, King Hamlet, Queen Gertrude gives her son a brief lesson in death:
?Good Hamlet, cast thy knighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not forever with thy vailéd lids seek for they noble father in the dust.
Thou know?st tis common, all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity? (1.2.70-75).
In these passages Queen Gertrude, Hamlet?s mother, informs Hamlet that everyone?s fate is death and that he will not find his father in the dust, for his father passed through nature and went on to eternity. This idea of moving on to the next world rationalizes the light-hearted and terse proceedings for King Hamlet?s funeral. From the first act, death is illustrated as a radical and somewhat soothing concept. So much so, that Hamlet highly considers killing himself because he believes only a seemingly peaceful death would be the answer to his anguish. In Act 3 Shakespeare gives an opposing view of death. ?To be, or not to be: that is the question? (3.1.63). This is Hamlet?s infamous soliloquy on the topic of death. He states that people do not kill themselves because they do not know what to expect in ?the undiscovered country from whose bourn no travelers return (3.1.87-88). As opposed to previously, where the afterlife was portrayed as a light and pleasurable topic, here death is

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