Meaning of Life

Essay by cohofcoh2High School, 12th gradeB+, July 2014

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Finik 1

Michael Finik

Mr. Godbout


11 July 2014

Meaning of life

Why does one live? What purpose does one serve? What is the meaning of life? These are all existential questions that both ancient and modern philosophers have yet to satisfactorily answer. The weight of one's mortality and the differences of life and death are introduced right from the start of Shakespeare's play Hamlet having Hamlet, in the aftermath of his father's death, attempt to explore these existential questions, seeking truth and understanding as he tries to grasp the anecdote about his father's death. Claudius on the other hand is deeply considering his actions while also enduring a very difficult apprehension of life after death. Claudius acts to generate Hamlet's confusion and anger, and his ensuing search for truth and life's meaning, but Claudius himself is not a stationary character. In private, he is a very different character.

It is clear that Claudius is seen as a murderous villain, but a divided villain: a man who cannot refrain from nourishing his own desires. He is not a monster, only morally weak, intent on trading his humanity for power. Polonius is a man filled with confidence in his knowledge, and while he is a blowhard, and he does spout sayings, his clichés constitute sound advice and his observations prove themselves prophetic. In Hamlet, life and death provides multiple influences and consequences for each of these characters, affecting both their well-beings and sense of meaning.

Finik 2

Hamlet is a university student of Wittenberg who frequently contemplates on several perplexing philosophical questions, and possibly suicide. When King Hamlet, his father, dies, he returns home to Denmark only to discover that there was evidence of foul play in his father's death. "The serpent that did sting thy father's...