Analysis of Hamlets To Be or Not to Be
William Shakespeare is an outstanding and talented playwright well known worldwide. His multiple literary works are immensely crucial for English literature and, ultimately, for the world heritage. Everybody is fascinated by reading his poems, tragedies, and comedies where he could skillfully depict virtues and viciousness of a human nature, one's weaknesses and strengths, emotional stress and anguish of mind. One of his famous plays named Hamlet occupies a central place in Shakespeare's literary heritage. It raises many critical issues, such as love and betrayal, life and death, struggle and retreat. Various rhetorical devices incorporated in narration are beneficial for conveying a message of the author to the readers or spectators.
How It Works
Hamlet is infused with multiple soliloquies of the main character that assist in reflecting his emotional and mental condition. They alternatively reveal his inner contemplations, as well as spiritual torments and distress that hold the audience in suspense during entire narration. Various Hamlet's statements and soliloquies exhibit severe mental struggle that periodically overwhelms him and divulges his uncertainty, indecisiveness, and depression. He appeals to himself and the audience trying to answer the questions that torture his mind and consciousness.
The soliloquy To Be or not to Be is perceived as one of the best Hamlet passages in English dramatic literature. It depicts Hamlet's reflections regarding life and death, reconciliation and revenge, good and evil. Each and every word of his narration demonstrates internal tortures and anguish of mind after tremendous events that have occurred in Hamlet's life. Unexpected death of his father, a Dutch king, further hasty marriage of his mother to an uncle, meeting with the father's ghost who revealed the truth about his assassination and treachery overturned Hamlet's conscience and significantly disturbed his peace of mind. Discovered truth becomes a life challenge for Hamlet that puts him in temporary spiritual deadlock. This knowledge forces Hamlet to make a choice: whether to silently suffer the cruelties of fate or to put up a fight against the misfortunes of life (Meer). It makes him realize in which imperfect, villainous, and hypocritical world he exists. These contemplations and doubts temporarily paralyze his will and ability to act. The first part of the discussed soliloquy demonstrates his desire to die and, in this way, to cease vexation of mind. The readers become witnesses to Hamlet's reasoning if it is worth to live further in the world of lies and pain. At some point, death seemed to be a resolution of his sufferings. The second part of Hamlet's soliloquy states his intention to leave the idea of committing suicide due to uncertainty about the after-death life. Unclarity regarding afterlife predisposes Hamlet's choice and urges him for struggle and revenge. The following words prove Hamlets refusal from the idea of suicide:
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry (Shakespeare).
All his statements show the swings of Hamlet's consciousness before taking a final decision. Ongoing mental tortures, tribulations, and meditations make Hamlet experience significant transformation. Throughout the play, Hamlet's thoughts continue revolving around death and afterlife issues that signal about his depressive and melancholic condition.
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Shakespeare involves various descriptive and metaphorical literary devices that are beneficial for conveying messages of the play's characters to the audience. To Be or not to Be is written in a form of soliloquy that perfectly reflects the main character's feelings and contemplations. It is a form of internal dialogue of Hamlet with himself that can be helpful for finding a resolution to his sufferings. In the first seven lines of Hamlet's soliloquy, the character appeals to emotions as the question of life or death gradually arises. Hamlet wonders regarding his further actions, whether it is worth to accept the existing reality or better to commit suicide. The poet uses antithesis from the very beginning of the soliloquy of Hamlet by putting a question to be or not to be that immediately attracts the readers attention. These simple words reflect that the main character faces a dilemma. Such literary device helps to keep the readers concentrated on one of the prominent issues of the play.
Incorporated metaphors in Hamlet's narration, such as the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, signify misery, predicaments, and trials a character of Hamlet encounters during this period of life. The metaphoric words, such as slings, arrows, the whips, and scorns, are used for defining life's burdens and problems (Shakespeare). The next metaphor or to take arms against a sea of troubles implicates the troubles and obstacles that a person can bring and retreat from life battles. In these lines, the character debates internally about his further choice. He thinks what is nobler to stand aside accepting injustice, treachery, and murder or decline reconciliation. He meditates about life as heartache and sufferings opposing and representing death as sleep that can pacify his tortured soul and mind. Death and suicide are possible ways of escape from tortures and worrisome thoughts.
Additionally, used metaphoric language assists the author in describing death as the undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns (Shakespeare). Such lines as to die, to sleep; to sleep perchance to dream: there's the rub; / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come present death as peaceful consummation of life that devoutly to be wished (Shakespeare). At this point, Hamlet wonders regarding the nature of death. He imagines death as a deep sleep that seems to be acceptable for a while, until he realizes that nobody knows about the life after death. Hamlet is not sure whether the dreams will bring relief and put the end to his earthly sufferings after death (Shakespeare).
The obscurity and uncertainty about after-death consequences make Hamlet choose life instead of committing suicide, and revenge for his father's murder. At this moment, Hamlet realizes that inability to explore the afterlife existence make cowards of us and predisposes his further choice that is confirmed by lines it makes us rather bear those ills we have (Shakespeare). The entire Hamlet's speech is a profound contemplation over the nature of life and death.
Describing death as sleep, Shakespeare involves metonymy. He considers suicide as an escape from spiritual torments. He describes suicide as the native hue of resolution, whereas the fear of death is regarded as the pale cast of thought (Shakespeare). Alternatively, such metaphors as fardels, ills, and calamity help to depict Hamlet's attitude to life that brings disappointment and pains.
Shakespeare also applies pathos for expressing the menace and flowery language through Hamlet's soliloquy. Furthermore, the author uses unordinary syntax and punctuation for depicting gradual intensification of Hamlet's emotions. Frequent commas and semicolons in Hamlet's speech reveal his real emotional condition. Pauses created by punctuation explicitly demonstrate Hamlet's depression, perplexity, emotional distress, and mental turmoil.
Shakespeare actively involves imagery that helps to convey Hamlet's messages about his solitude, as he has to battle alone with life challenges. Hamlet's words the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune alternatively deliver a message about injustice and cruelty of life. Speaking about the whips and scorns of time Hamlet alternatively thinks about misfortunes.
Used rhetorical devices and tools allow the author, as well as the main character, to deliver one of the main ideas of the play Hamlet. Various expressive metaphors, punctuation, alliterations, and imagery assist in revealing the mood and attitude of Hamlet to diverse vital issues. They are helpful for depicting expressiveness, tone, and temper of the central character of the play. Indicated literary methods help the readers to understand Hamlet's emotions and mental condition. Skillfully chosen words and intonation give the audience a chance to understand Hamlet's attitude to such issues as life, death, and suicide. They assist in reasoning Hamlets choice and final solution. Soliloquy facilitates the delivering of Hamlet's diverse and contradictory statements. Simultaneously, such conflicting messages can be better conveyed through the form of internal monologues of the central figure.
In conclusion, Hamlet's soliloquy occupies a central place in the play Hamlet. The leading character presents his internal monologue addressed to himself. This narration demonstrates a process of thinking about various issues, such as life, death, evil, and good, that gradually predispose and explain his final solution. Hamlet's resolution signifies continuation of life and obtaining justice. Various literary devices are beneficial for delivering messages to the readers. They make Hamlet's speech expressive, impressive, and reflect his emotional state.