When faith is dead, how can we tolerate everything? How can we confront ourselves, forgive the past mistakes, and to rebuild tolerance and faith? Is it better to pardon or to revenge; to live or to die? From William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the play gives its own answer.
In the tragic life of Hamlet, his endurance has reached the breaking point. His father has been murdered. His mother, who he loves dearly, has married her dead husband’s brother. Moreover his sweetheart, Ophelia, has been acting very strangely. He senses that she does not love him any more. Now, he feels all alone. The world that he knew is shattered. His black mood of despair is deepened by his inability to act (to do something to change the situation). Now Hamlet’s heart is full of contradictions, he does not know how to deal with this complex situation, his inner struggle resorts with a monologue form which shows he wonders whether to continue living, or to take his own life.
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“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 No more – and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to – ’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep – To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause. Here’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life. For 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, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.” (Act three, scene one)
The entire soliloquy points out Hamlet’s grief, contradictory and frustration. “To be” or “Not to be” is Hamlet’s choice to make: action or dormancy, commitment or shirk the responsibility, brave or coward, life or death. Also, “â€¦to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end themâ€¦” Hamlet’s grief at his mother sleeps with the patricidal murderer unexpectedly; his contradictions in even if he revenges for his father successful, it will fall into how to deal with his mother and face the difficulties to continue living; he is involuntarily entangled in the love-hate. Under these circumstances, Hamlet reveals to commit suicide several times in the soliloquy: “To die, to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir toâ€¦” Using death to terminate the body needed to withstand the pain is the topic which appears several times throughout the entire soliloquy; however what is the world we will enter after death? Hamlet can choose the self-ending, but his fear comes from this unknown: “The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will â€¦” So the other choice is to stay in the world, and continue living like a craven to bear the suffering: “And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us allâ€¦” In saying that Hamlet’s contemplation of suicide in this scene concludes no one would choose to endure the pain of life if he or she were not afraid of what will come after death, and it is this fear which causes complicated moral thoughts to interfere with the capacity for action.
Other than the scene of Hamlet’s soliloquy, there comes the notion of mystery of death all over the course of the play. After King Hamlet’s murder, Hamlet considers death from different perspectives. He ponders both the spiritual upshot of death, embodied in the ghost, and the physical remainders of the dead, such as Yorick’s skull and the decaying corpses in the cemetery. This idea of death is closely tied to the themes of spirituality, truth, and uncertainty in that death may bring the answers to Hamlet’s deepest questions: ending once and for all the problem of trying to determine truth in an indefinite world. And, since death is both the cause and the consequence of revenge, it is closely tied to the theme of revenge and justice which Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet begins Hamlet’s quest for revenge and Claudius’s death is leading the end of that quest.
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“To be, or not to be” determine the beginning and end of many problems, life is also because of the contradictory propositions and begins a long list of journey. Maybe life is this: people want to go their own chosen way, but fate has made them the other options. Finally, they find themselves between hope and reality. “To be, or not to be.” People live in order to survive or to destroy? Alive in order to survive! But why do people always in self-destruction? Alive in order to destroy! But why do people always want to live happy and comfortable? “To be, or not to be” – to live intensely and richly, or merely to exist, that is the question depends on ourselves. Life or Death, this is the mystery.
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