Mortality in Hamlet
I. Mortality drives the play
A. King Hamlet’s death is premise of the play
B. All other deaths in play are associated and stem from original death of King Hamlet 1. Hamlet wants revenge
2. Polonius dies
a. Rosencratz and Guildenstern and Ophelia die
b. Laertes’ involvement results directly in his and Hamlet’s deaths, and indirectly in the King and Queen’s deaths
II. “To be or not to be” soliloquy central to plot
A. Hamlet contemplates because of his hardships and glimpse of afterlife that Ghost gave (I.V.18-21) “But that I am forbid to tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood…” - Ghost B. Hamlet chooses life over death
C. Life is hard, but is short compared to death – (III.i.79-82) ““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.” – Hamlet III. Opinion of afterlife influences character behavior
1. “To be or not to be…” – scared to kill himself because of what would become of his soul 2. “And am I then revenged to take him in the purging of his soul, when he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No.” (III.iii.89-92) – Doesn’t kill Claudius because he doesn’t want the king to go to Heaven after death
B. Gertrude: “I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.” (V.ii.318) – trying to better herself before dying for better afterlife.
C. Ophelia: “Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds, as one incapable of her own distress or like a creature native and endued unto that element.” (IV.vii.202-205) – willing to die; accept fate in afterlife.
IV. Physical aspect of death
A. All bodies are just corpses when they die...
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