Death in Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Death Pages: 5 (1915 words) Published: November 25, 2012
The story Hamlet is centralized around one common theme that stands as the constant dynamic struggle. Death threads its way through the entirety of†Hamlet, from the opening scene's confrontation with a dead man's ghost to the bloodbath of the final scene, which leaves almost every main character dead. Despite so many deaths, however, Shakespeare's treatment of the issue of death is especially obvious through his portrayal of Hamlet who is presented as a person preoccupied with the idea of death and the Ghost of King Hamlet. Hamlet constantly contemplates death from many angles. He is both seduced and repelled by the idea of suicide, but, in the famous gravedigger scene, he is also fascinated by the physical reality of death. In a way,†Hamlet†can be viewed as extended dialogue between Hamlet and death. As Hamlet progresses as a character in the story, he advances through many understandings of mortality and death and how it applies to himself and the characters around him. In the beginning he is much more believing in the concept that life is just a cruel stepping stone to death and beyond, but as he grows as a character and becomes more experienced, he understands the huge negative impact death plays on man.

It is through these characters that the dramatist reveals his ambiguous representation of the principal theme. From the very beginning Hamlet reflects a youthful idolization of death, living life as a journey toward death. Although he is afraid of the Ghost, he tries to get in touch with him. Initially Hamlet is anxious about death, because he does not know what awaits him after death. Hamlet reflects his anxiety in one famous soliloquy, where he demonstrates the controversy of the issue of death. As he claims, ìBut that the dread of something after death, / The undiscovered country from whose bourne / No traveler returns, puzzles the will / And makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than to fly to others we know not ofî (3.1.86-90). However, as Hamlet collides with cruelty, murders, injustice and deaths, he seems to form a certain unconcern towards death. In his search of revenge, Hamlet thinks much about death and afterlife. But these attempts to revenge for his father are only a prerequisite to Hamlet's thoughts of committing suicide. This obsession with death gradually drives him mad; William Shakespeare demonstrates this obsession with implicit mockery. For instance, when Hamlet kills Ophelia's father, he is not able to remember, where he hides his body; instead he starts to madly speak about the worms that eat a dead body. Shakespeare demonstrates that even Hamlet's appearance shows his obsession with death; he wears black clothes and looks depressed. In the graveyard scene Shakespeare intensifies Hamlet's preoccupation with death, revealing Hamlet's gloomy thoughts. As he claims, No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returned into dust; the dust is earth (Shakespeare, 1985 5.1.201-206). In fact, the image of the grave is shown several times throughout the play to reveal the character's attitude towards death. With the exception of Hamlet, all characters demonstrate fear and pity at the sight of the grave that they associate with death. As Hamlet constantly thinks of death, he does not value his own life, as well as other people's lives. As a result, Hamlet appears to be also responsible for the death of Ophelia, Claudius, Polonius, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. Thus, Hamlet's obsession transforms him from a miserable youth into a cruel murderer. However, contrary to other characters' deaths that are portrayed with a certain degree of irony, Hamlet's death is depicted in more serious terms. From the very beginning of Shakespeare's play each death seems to be blackened and is soon forgotten by other characters. For instance, Hamlet demonstrates that his father's death is already neglected by...
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