Hamlet’s demonstrated throughout Hamlet’s soliloquy, as he unnecessarily plans

Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy is questionably one
of the most famous soliloquies in the world of literature. Even though hundreds
of years have passed since it was written, many people are somewhat familiar
with this soliloquy. The recognition has allowed these powerful words to
maintain such a hold on people’s minds and has provoked a wide spectrum of
people to ask questions about their own existence for centuries. The questions
being asked is extremely complex and crucial to the story, and is seen to be
highly relatable on many basis; whether it’s better for one to continue living
a life of sadness just to increase his existence in a world where he is
familiar with the horrors he faces, or if it is simply easier to put an end to
one’s existence altogether but risk entering an unavoidable reality that lacks
any degree of certainty. In the soliloquy, “To be, or not to be,” the powerful
themes of indecisiveness and uncertainty of action, and the complexities of
life and death, bring to light the key ideas that persist throughout the
Shakespearean tragedy, as well as many significant qualities and traits of the
play’s leading character, Prince Hamlet.

Many people have seen Hamlet as a
play about indecisiveness, and thus about Hamlet’s failure to act
appropriately. The uncertainty he faces is repetitively demonstrated throughout
Hamlet’s soliloquy, as he unnecessarily plans over what to do with his life. He
simultaneously considers and discards the idea of committing suicide couple of
times; he believes that this act will serve as an escape from the pain that his
life brings upon him, but is unsure of what is to come once he does. During his
soliloquy, Hamlet says: “To be, or not to be? That is the question—/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?” (3.1.57-61).
This quote describes Hamlet as a character who is uncertain if it is honorable
to put up with all the trials and pain that luck throws his way, or to fight
against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them for good; which he
thinks can be achieved by ending his life. Hamlet is tortured by the death of
his father; the appearance of his father’s ghost serves as a constant reminder
of this part of his forbidding past, thus making it difficult for him to move
on and leave this pain behind. Hamlet doesn’t like his mother’s betrayal to
both him and his late father when she marries her dead husband’s brother –
Hamlet’s uncle Claudius – who is now the King of Denmark. These two aspects are
the main contributions to the overwhelming feelings of pain and grief that
Hamlet experiences. He feels as if there is no other option besides suicide to
ease this pain, but he is still unwilling to make this decision in all its
finality. His uncertain thoughts are in constant battle; this internal conflict
is shown when he says, “No more—and by a sleep to say we end/The heartache and
the thousand natural shocks/That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation/Devoutly
to be wished! To die, to sleep. /To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the
rub, /For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/When we have shuffled off
this mortal coil, /Must give us pause.” (3.1.66-67). It is evident that the
main reason he hesitates to take the final step in his plan of suicide is
because he is uncertain of what lies after death; it could either be a heavenly
sleep of pleasant dreams, or a tortured sleep full of nightmares. This lack of
certainty, along with his religious outlook on life, is what makes him so
hesitant to act for so long. He is aware that committing suicide is considered
a sin in the Christian faith he follows, and doing so would make him subject to
eternal damnation in hell; a possibility that frightens him more than any possible
pain.

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                The
weight of one’s mortality and the difficulties of life and death are introduced
from the very beginning of the Shakespearean tragedy of Hamlet. After his
father’s death, Hamlet cannot stop thinking and considering the meaning of life
– and its eventual ending. Many questions arise as the story progresses; what
is to come after death, if one will go to heaven if he is murdered, and if
kings truly have a free pass to heaven. In Hamlet’s mind, the idea of dying
itself does not seem so bad. The view that primarily frightens him away from
taking his own life is the endless uncertainty of the afterlife. The covered
mystery of death creates a sense of unease within Hamlet’s mind. He considers
the option of suicide as the best way to instantly relieve him of his earthly
troubles. Although death may be appealing to Hamlet because of its all-ending
nature, it also frightens him. He refers to the afterlife as “The undiscovered
country from whose bourn/ No traveler returns” (3.1.80-81), which is an idea
that causes him to reconsider before falling into the ultimate sleep; because
once he does it, there is no going back, even if the supposed horrors of the
afterlife prove too much to handle. The fact that Hamlet is still planning the
act of suicide even after he has sworn to avenge his father reveals that these
earthly troubles lie much deeper than simple grief over the murder of his
father. Hamlet’s anger against his mother’s betrayal stalks from the fear that
if his mother can so easily forget his father’s life after death, then life
itself must have no meaning at all. With the pure lack of decency and morality
that Hamlet’s society possesses, causes a negative shadow to be cast on the way
he values life; leading up to his thought of suicide. Hamlet describes the
corrupt nature of the society he lives in when he says, “For who would bear the
whips and scorns of time, / Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, /
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, / The insolence of office, and the
spurns/ That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,” (3.1.71-75). Through this
description, Hamlet’s grim outlook on life is shown to be evident. He truly
does carry the burden of pain and suffering in his life, which makes him want
to end it. He is distressed by this decision that, in the end, he ironically
leaves undecided; his fate of life or death was not in his hands after all.

                Hamlet
is a character that has fascinated audiences and readers of all sorts for
centuries. One of the notable traits to point out about his character is that
he is remarkably mysterious. There always seems to be more to him than the
other characters in the play can figure out. Hamlet tells other characters –
including his mother, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – that there is more to him
than meets the eye. In fact, he single-handedly manages to deceive the other
characters in the play when he falsely presents himself as a madman. However,
this is not the only aspect of his character that leaves people so fascinated
by him. Hamlet, being an aspiring student, whose studies are interrupted by the
death of his father, is exceptionally logical and thoughtful. Hamlet is
presented with reasonable evidence that his uncle murdered his father, which
any other character in the play would readily accept and believe. However,
despite having learnt this awareness, Hamlet instead becomes obsessed with
proving his uncle’s guilt for himself before considering taking any real
action. The idea of just readily believing what people say is simply
unacceptable to him. Being the highly inquisitive character, he is, he tends to
question everything, and overthink; including questions about the afterlife,
suicide, and what happens to people after death. He finds himself drawn to
difficult questions, some of which cannot be answered with any certainty. Hamlet
also behaves quite rashly and impulsively, revealing himself to be a paradox of
a character. On the very rare occasion when he does act, he does so with
surprising swiftness and little to no prior thought or reasoning. This can be
seen through the way he stabs Polonius through the curtain, without even
thinking to confirm who was behind it before doing so. Hamlet’s cowardice is
another very important part of his character, and serves as one of his many
tragic flaws. His never-ending observation and hesitation to act shows the huge
weakness he possesses. He’s not strong or brave enough to actually carry out
the deeds he sets out to do; just in this soliloquy alone, he shows signs of
cowardice when he continually suggests and then refuses the idea of suicide out
of fear of the unknown; “the dread of something after death,/ The undiscovered
country from whose bourn/ No traveler returns, puzzles the will/ And makes us
rather bear those ills we have/ Than fly to others that we know not of?/ Thus
conscience does make cowards of us all” (3.1.79-84). This part of Hamlet’s
soliloquy clearly describes the parts of death that frighten him from taking
action, and he blatantly admits that the fear of death makes him a coward.
Another one of the major character traits that Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be”
soliloquy reveals about him is his extremely depressed and discontented
attitude towards the state of affairs in Denmark and in his own family. When he
describes the state of Denmark, he speaks of “Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud
man’s contumely, / The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,/ And The
insolence of office” (3.1.72-75), which portrays the place he lives in as vile
and corrupt. As a result of his hatred towards his mother’s betrayal, Hamlet
immediately generalizes all women as being foul and troublesome, and harshly
rejects his former lover Ophelia because of this. It is both remarkable and
ironic that Hamlet, the privileged Prince of Denmark who supposedly should have
everything he wants in the world, is the one character in the play that is the
most depressed and unhappy with his life.

                Hamlet
is a complex character, which is reflected by the thoughts and conflicted
feelings he displays in his soliloquy. “To be, or not to be” truly is the
essential question that Shakespeare sensibly leaves unanswered. This convincing
question and the thoughts that Hamlet associates with it creates a powerful
piece of literature, through which many parts of the Shakespearean tragedy are
enhanced and explored. The powerful themes of indecisiveness and uncertainty of
action, and the complexities of life and death, are emphasized through this
soliloquy; along with many of the key qualities and traits that draw so much
attention to the play’s leading character, Prince Hamlet. Hamlet’s tragic
experiences do call into sharper focus why humans are so ready to face hardship
to survive, rather than pursuing the possibility of a peaceful end in death.
When looking deeper into the work, it is quite fascinating to consider that the
play has a way of showing its audience how many uncertainties people’s lives
are built upon; and how these uncertainties play a considerable part in the
decisions people make.