Saturday, January 18, 2020

How does Shakespeare present suicide in Hamlet? Essay

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 â€Å"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, â€Å"†¦sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew;† these lines massively represent that Hamlet wants his spirit released from his body. Despite Hamlet supposedly having the justification to commit suicide (death of father, betrayed by mother), with all of this pain, eternal life in Heaven seems a healthy option. However, Hamlet takes into account his Christian beliefs and loathes that to end one’s life is an enormous sin. In Shakespeare’s world renowned soliloquy, â€Å"to be or not to be†¦Ã¢â‚¬ , Hamlet rarely addresses his problem and drastically uses the pronouns ‘we’ and us’. Also, once again he verbally considers his suicide and it seems as if he is trying to persuade himself to commit the action, but with no success, due to him fearing the unknown that may haunt him in the afterlife, â€Å"†¦what dreams may come†. Regardless of everything he has said, people would†Ã¢â‚¬ ¦rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?† this again emphasizes the dread of the unknown from the known. Shortly after this soliloquy, Hamlet shows his distress to Ophelia, and says â€Å"I loved you not†, and soon tells her, â€Å"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 â€Å"your sister’s drown’d, Laertes†, to suggesting a case of suicide. At first instance this evidence suggests accidental death, â€Å"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, â€Å"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. Also, it is implied before this scene that Ophelia is mad, but in this scene this accusation is once again backed up when the Queen says, â€Å"Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes†, this proves her absolute madness as any sane person would be struggling, yet Ophelia seems to allow the water to submerge her. Following on from the issue of Ophelia’s supposed suicide, two clowns enter and discuss whether she is to receive a traditional Christian burial despite, â€Å"†¦wilfully seeking her own salvation†. As the Priest begins one of his short speeches, he also gives a stern impression that he was under the suspicion that she committed suicide, stating, â€Å"Her death was doubtful†¦Ã¢â‚¬  Usually suspecting people (clergymen) would not allow deceased people to receive a Christian burial. But in Ophelia’s case the Priest goes from one extreme to another, â€Å"She should in ground unsanctified†¦Ã¢â‚¬ , but soon carries out a hurried burial and declares†Ã¢â‚¬ ¦to peace-parted souls†, this could be due to Ophelia’s royal relations having influence over this religious decision. 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.

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