• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

An Analysis of Hamlets Philosophy of Life and Death in William Shakespeares Hamlet

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Takala Siobhan Takala Mr. Hodson English B30H June 17th 2012 A Struggle with Death?s Dominion; An Analysis of Hamlet?s Philosophy of Life and Death in William Shakespeare?s Hamlet Dylan Thomas once wrote ?And death shall have no dominion?. William Shakespeare?s tragedy, Hamlet, is a provocative play that portrays how a young prince struggles with his philosophy of life and death after the death of his father. Hamlet, the prince, has trouble overcoming his father?s passing as he also has to deal with its aftermath. The first problem Hamlet has to deal with is his mother Gertrude?s marriage to the newly appointed king, Hamlet?s uncle Claudius. Hamlet is disgusted by this, seeing it as ?incestuous?(Shakespeare 1.2.162) and begins to contemplate suicide as an alternative to dealing with his problems. His strong angst toward the newly weds grows even more acute when Hamlet is visited by his father?s ghost and becomes aware that Claudius murdered his father. With this, he continues to struggle, asking himself which is easier, ?to be or not to be?(3.1.64). After this, Hamlet?s outlook on life and death is continually changing due to a series of events until he comes to the conclusion that people should ?let be?(5.2.238) because ?there?s a divinity that shapes our ends?(5.2.11).Thus, through Hamlet, Shakespeare presents the idea that there is a greater power shaping everyone?s lives and no matter what life throws at people, they must persevere and let events play out as fate is in control. Hamlet has a very bleak outlook on life at the beginning of the play. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare does so through ?The Murder of Gonzago?(2.2.564) the play Hamlet puts on, as Hamlet is aware that ?the purpose of playing?(3.2.21) is to mirror reality. With this in mind, Hamlet adds ?some dozen or sixteen lines?(2.2.567-568) to create a mirror image of his father?s murder within the play. Hamlet does this to see if his uncle really killed his father, and determines that he does do to his reaction. The play discusses how people live their lives ?determine[s] oft we break?(3.2.210). This idea connects back to Hamlet?s discussion with Horatio about people?s ?vicious mole of nature?(1.4.27) causing them to be a victim of fate and builds upon that concept. The play also considers how, what someone wants to happen and what actually happens, are totally different; people have no control over their lives. Thus, the play builds upon the concept that no matter what people do, their efforts will be overthrown, as they cannot control fate. This exposes Hamlet once again to this idea putting it in his sub-conscience to be seen further on in the play. Hamlet has now been exposed to the idea of fate controlling people?s lives, but has not come to realize this for himself yet. This is seen when Hamlet accidentally murders Polonius and still accepts responsibility for it even though Polonius was killed due to his tragic flaw, being nosy and arrogant. Polonius is killed after giving away his location while ?intruding?(3.4.38) on Hamlet and Gertrude talking. Since this is how he is killed, it could be expected that Hamlet would try to rationalize Polonius?s murder as it was his fate to die in that manner. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lastly, Hamlet passes on the kingdom to ?Fortinbras?(5.2.393) and recognizes that ?the rest is silence?(5.2.395); Hamlet?s life is over. Thus, Hamlet?s philosophical look on life and death goes hand in hand with his death, as he does not fight it and he is well aware that he is dying and stays calm. This is a major contrast to how the play starts off when Hamlet is terrified to die, as he is scared of damnation. Now, Hamlet is ready to die and is okay with dying ?now?(5.2.236). Thus, Hamlet?s philosophy on life and death has come full circle, as he started off very pessimistic and ended up with a reflective view on life and death. Shakespeare presents the concept that life and death are out of people?s control and are shaped by ?providence?(5.2.324) through the character of Hamlet. Hamlet believes that life cannot be controlled by people but rather, it is controlled by God and fate. He realizes that he should not live his life in fear of death and many events lead him to be convinced that no matter what people do, the way they die will still be controlled by a ?divinity?(5.2.11). Although God plays some part in everyone?s lives, people cannot depend solely on him to shape their lives. How a person lives does ?determine?(3.2.210) how they die, but only that person can shape their own future. Every new generation is told that the future is in their hands and this is very true. Everyone can make their life what they want it to be and no-one has to succumb to fate, but anyone can choose that path. People need to be aware that even though fate and destiny may be considered real, everyone has the power to shape their own life. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. The Dramatic Function of Ophelia in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.

    but in contrast her brother's violence explodes outward- they enact the alternative responses to the power of grief. Ophelia reveals much about Polonius, whom it is important that the audience have an understanding of. She exposes his inconsiderate nature and disrespect for others, perhaps lessening the audience's readiness to sympathise with him upon his death.

  2. Compare and Contrast theCharacters Hamlet and Laertes.

    because he will go to heaven, and by killing him during the act of prayer, Hamlet is giving him the chance to repent, therefore doing him an eternal favour. Laertes wants revenge; he is not concerned with punishment. He does not think rationally, he just wants immediate retaliation.

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    the guards shoot off a cannon every time he finishes a drink. Hamlet is left alone. He talks to himself / the audience. Today's movie directors would use voice-overs for such speeches ("soliloques" if they are long and the speaker is alone, "asides" if they are short and there are other folks on stage.)

  2. Discuss Shakespeares and Hamlets treatment of and ideas about women

    It is important for modern critics like Leverenz as well as critical feminist readers to recognize that Ophelia and Gertrude are not necessarily weak and passive in personal character, but instead they are reflection of women (especially royal women) who were oppressed of empowering traits by the socially acceptable customs.

  1. An analysis of the characters in Hamlet

    The ghost also makes Hamlet and three other Danes swear to avenge 'his most unnatural death'. The ghost brings about the beginning of the play by making its appearance and appealing to Hamlet. The ghost appears again when it confronts Hamlet with his mother, Gertrude.

  2. Comparing the revengers Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet.

    army are on an expedition to Poland to fight over a piece of disputed territory. The audience may realise that Fortinbras perhaps has an alterior motive to pass through Denmark on the way to Poland linked to his desire for revenge.

  1. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    Moreover, he evades his death in Act four Scene six by changing the contents of a letter. If he were to die then he would have no problems, but his speeches are not personal to him in the context that he says I want to kill myself he only looks as how it could help in his position.

  2. A consideration of the extent to which, in Hamlet's soliloquies, Hamlet is presented by ...

    Act 1, scene ii (135-137) The structure of the language within the soliloquy also demonstrates to the reader Hamlet's emotional state. Hamlet's thoughts are not fluent; he often interrupts himself with his own expressive comments, as evident in the lines: "That it should come to this - But two months

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work