Hamlet's Paradox of Man

Topics: Death, William Shakespeare, Paradox Pages: 3 (1011 words) Published: February 24, 2002
Shakespeare was a man ahead of his time. He was a man who had an ability to portray the inner workings of humanity. Throughout his masterful works he was able to peer into the human psyche and capture emotions like no other writer has been able to do. He filled every one of his plays, most notably Hamlet, with eternal truths concerning human emotions. Shakespeare develops the paradox of man and contradictions of humanity with imagery, ironic siloques, and philosophical rants by Hamlet and Claudius.

No one has ever returned from the dead. Nobody knows exactly what life after death is like. This is the thesis of Hamlet's first paradox. The saying that "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" does not hold true when dealing with human life. Life is a struggling, so why do we endure it? Hamlet reminds us that " . . . in that sleep of death what dreams may come,/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,/ Must give us pause" (III.i.67-69). The reason that people do not give up their lives is because they do not know what it is to become of them after they die. Man is trapped in life by the enigma of death---the unknowns. He generally wishes to give his life up for something better; he cannot because there is no knowing whether death is a better alternative or not. Even though a better life is promised to us after death, one cannot get ot that place when taking one's own life.

Shakespeare notes that the Scriptures disapprove of suicide. This is another reason that men do not take their live. Hamlet wishes, "that the Everlasting that had not fixed/ His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter" (I.ii.131-132) after finding out that his father was killed by his uncle. This passage strikes less loudly against the soul of humanity now than it did when Hamlet was written. Poepl were incredibly religious in Shakespeare's time, probably more so than today. Fewer people in today's society probably believe as strongly that suicide is a sin. However, one can still see...
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