Hamlet's Preparation for Death: " Hamlet" by William Shakespere

Essay by snipesHigh School, 12th grade March 2006

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One of the major themes explored throughout the play is the mystery of death. Throughout the play, Hamlet looks upon death in several different ways, from fearing the uncertainty of what lies after it, to accepting it as something natural and inevitable. Under the influence of his role in the death of those around him, his understanding of death goes through a transformation. For Hamlet, death evolves from something to be feared to something to be accepted.

Overwhelmed with grief of his father's death, Hamlet becomes absorbed with the idea of death, constantly referring to it as a solution to all his problems. When he is visited by the ghost of his father, and given the heavy load of exacting revenge, Hamlet's life becomes a struggle full of burdens, unfulfilled expectations, and self-criticism that at times becomes too difficult to bear. He is considering whether or not death can be a solution for his sorrows, "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..."

(3.1.70-75) But Hamlet rejects this kind of solution, out of fear of the unknown afterlife. He does not believe the orthodox Christian ideology, in which the afterlife consists of either heaven or hell. To Hamlet, death is a frightening "undiscovered country," shrouded in mist. In his famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy (III.i), Hamlet reasons,

"Who would the fardels bear, ... 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 we know not of."

Hamlet concludes that no one would choose to suffer through a painful life if he or...