Hamlet Moral Philosophy
Throughout Hamlet there is a moral conflict in regards to suicide. As the events of the play unfold Hamlet finds himself pondering whether or not life is worth living in such a decrepit world. Uncertainty keeps Hamlet from ending the pain of life, as well as his desire for revenge on Claudius.
Periodically throughout the play Hamlet stops to contemplate his mortality and ending his life. Hamlet does this in his soliloquies, often about whatever event is happening right then as well as, as is his melancholic nature, thinking about whether life is worth living.
In the famous “to be, or not to be”(3.1.56) speech, Hamlet is literally weighing the options between to be, or to live, or not to be, to die, and in the end he finds that the uncertainty of death makes “calamity of so long life”(3.1.69). Speeches like this and others throughout the play are prompted by Hamlet’s distress at all of the conflicts going on around him.
These speeches are Hamlet’s innermost thoughts and so are intended for Hamlet as they are his reflection on the moral conflict he is facing. Hamlet’s soliloquies reflect his inner conflict as he reflects upon whether or not he should end his life and his suffering or live and continue to suffer through his pain.
In Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1, or the “to be, or not to be” speech, Hamlet uses various rhetorical techniques to judge whether he should live or die. He uses imagery in this speech such as “The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely” (3.1.71) to illustrate the pains which may be felt in the sleep of death which he is considering. Hamlet also uses repetition throughout the speech to emphasize his conflict between life and death, particular in reference to sleep as he says “To die, to sleep” (3.1.60&64), he does this to highlight his uncertainty at the idea of death, or what may be lurking thereafter, “what dreams may come”(3.1.66). Hamlet’s perspective on this moral conflict changes as he finds purpose in his revenge against Claudius and begins to see his plan come to fruition. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet seems to be contemplating suicide whereas at the end, Hamlet wants to live to see his revenge against Claudius completed.
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