The Complexity of Choices in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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  • Topic: William Shakespeare, Life, Sleep
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The Complexity of Choices in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

No greater nor truer words have been spoken than William Shakespeare’s character in Hamlet says: “to be or not to be—that is the question.” A question many find themselves pondering sometimes everyday. The answer is not simple; there is so much to consider when inquiring about the value and importance of your own life. Hamlet acknowledges the significance of his question in a monologue that entails even more questions as well as paradoxes and a sort of crazy yet sane sort of logical approach to his idea of the answer. In Hamlet’s opening line: “to be or not to be—that is the question” he isolates the single most important question when it comes to taking his own life--should he live or should he die? The question isn’t why, how or when, just simple if he should or shouldn’t. There is somewhat of a greatness associated with the simplicity in which Hamlet places on his own life and in life in general with his first statement. Continuing on in his quest for the answer to his first question he ponders “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them”. Perchance Hamlet finds suffering to be a sign of nobility and that suffering in our pain is a sign of strength rather than weakness. The “slings and arrows” are a metaphor for all the awful things that are often thrown at us, sometimes with no protection and therefore are a result of our “outrageous fortune”. Then however Hamlet considers an alternative to the “slings and arrows” which is to defend yourself against any and all problems in order to eradicate them completely. It is interesting to note the word choice that Hamlet uses when describing his troubles; he calls them a “sea of troubles”. The word sea implies a vast, almost never visibly ending body of water; we can only assume that perhaps this is how Hamlet sees his troubles. Hamlet...
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