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

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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.


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.


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.

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