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How does Shakespeare present suicide in Hamlet?

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Introduction

Among all of the themes in Hamlet, morality, aswell as suicide cause an abundance of questions to be considered as the drama unfolds. At the present date suicide is looked upon with immense sympathy, considering what may have led the person to their downfall in life. However, beforehand in Elizabethan England, committing suicide was a huge sin against oneself, going against the 6th commandment "thou shall not murder" and also abuses the religious fact that only God has the authority to give, and therefore 'end' life. Shakespeare portrayed Hamlet as a very intelligent Prince from the beginning; however, from Hamlet's first soliloquy (act 1 scene II) Hamlet makes it well known that he is in a time of anguish when he makes reference to his diminishing lack of self worth ,"but no more like my father...Than I to Hercules". He also contemplates suicide, "...sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew;" these lines massively represent that Hamlet wants his spirit released from his body. ...read more.

Middle

Shortly after this soliloquy, Hamlet shows his distress to Ophelia, and says "I loved you not", and soon tells her, "Get thee to a nunnery", this is a small branch which grows from the stem of problems that caused Ophelia's eventual madness and led to her 'death'. In act IV scene 7 Ophelia meets her 'death', the cause of this is never confirmed, leaving the audience to wonder if it was accidental or suicidal. However, Queen Gertrude's account of her death proves very influential over the audience's opinion, as the Queen moves from simply stating "your sister's drown'd, Laertes", to suggesting a case of suicide. At first instance this evidence suggests accidental death, "an envious sliver broke", referring that the branch she stood on broke. However, when describing Ophelia's actions it suggests Ophelia purposely gave up the fight for life and Gertrude claims, "As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued", which boldly suggests Ophelia's grief caused her to give up her fight to the water. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Hamlet, every action and sentence can often be ambiguous, which can cause debate among people considering what Shakespeare was actually implying. The theme, suicide is presented in this same manner and is worked to perfection. This theme can lead the audience to believe on thing, but can cause a dramatic change In a person's fame of mind by purposely using pun and wit. For example, when it is suggested that Ophelia committed suicide, but it is such an open argument that it is also proposed that Ophelia's death was accidental and a cold murder. Gertrude's narrative description of Ophelia's death proves very suspicious and this could suggest that she was present and could have witnessed and watch her drown. This can be argued because Gertrude knew deep down that her son would be better off without Ophelia due to Hamlet needing to marry a fellow royal into their Danish family. ?? ?? ?? ?? How does Shakespeare present suicide in Hamlet? ...read more.

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