The Meaning of LIFE – Hamlet

The world of Hamlet is one where people are deeply troubled with a concern of the afterlife: To be, or not to be? That is the question- Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep?-” (Act 3, Scene 1, 57-61)
Hamlet laments that his father died without the chance to fast or do penance, and therefore entered the next life in a sinful state: “He took my father grossly, full of bread”(3.3.81-3)
Hamlet worries that the ghost is in reality the devil trying to trick him into murdering an innocent man, thereby damning his soul to hell for eternity: “The spirit that I have seen/May be a devil… that abuses me to damn me” (2.2.569-74)
Hamlet declares that only a fear of suffering in the next life prevents us ending the torments of this one. We postpone the tempting :”sleep of death” (3.1.67) because we fear the terrible dreams it may contain. According to the prince only the : “dread of something after death’ stops us taking our own lives (3.1.79)
One of the most pronounced aspects of the play is the prince’s obsession with the transience of life. Throughout the play Hamlet struggles to come to grips with the notion that every living human being must die and eventually turn to dust: “quintessence of dust” (2.2.298)
The prince’s most profound meditation on the briefness of human existence occurs in the graveyard scene. He is mesmerised by the skulls so casually tossed around by the gravediggers: “That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once”(5.1.69.70).
Particularly moving is Hamlet’s encounter with Yorick’s skull. The prince is deeply saddened that his childhood companion’s humour and energy have disappeared in death: “Where be your gibes now? Your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment”.

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