Shakespeare expresses his perspective on death, God and inaction through Hamlet, a character who represents the dichotomy of the Elizabethan and Renaissance eras. He is initially torn between action and inaction echoing the tensions of the transitional phase between the two eras - He wonders if “’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles”. The warlike imagery used serves to elevate his desperate indecision to an epic degree – to tolerate “slings and arrows” is painful and senseless, yet to oppose the metaphorical “sea of troubles” (a very force of nature) seems too daunting a task. He recognises that “conscience does make cowards of us all.” Death seems an escape from his woes, “but that dread of something after death... makes us bear those ills we have / than fly to others we know not of.” Hamlet fears the mystery of the afterlife, as well as God’s “canon ‘gainst self slaughter” – it is what keeps him from simply dying to escape his “weary life”. This reflects Shakespeare’s context when the belief and faith in God and an afterlife was deeply rooted in society.
Themes such as death are still abundant today. For example, Hamlet's third soliloquy reminds us that death is the only element that will allow us to feel as though we have a purpose. With death comes striving for a life that we will be content with in order to feel as though we have fulfilled a successful life. Hamlet later realizes that death is ethereal and does not fill this void because once we are dead nothing can or will maintain.
His ‘unprevailing woe’ leads him to contemplate suicide, in the synecdoche, ‘O that this too too solid flesh would melt’. Yet, suicide is a sin within the Christian framework, with the ‘Everlasting... ‘gainst self-slaughter’, creating a biblical contrast that identifies Hamlet’s volatility and undefined sense of self. His preoccupation with suicide, ‘To be or not to be?’, is beset by his...
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