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Good Night, Sweet Prince:

Exploring the Theme of Death in Hamlet

Submitted to: Mr. Freitas

Submitted by: Sebastian Stanik
Date: 03/03/2017
Course Code: ENG4UP
In William Shakespeares Hamlet, Hamlets life revolves around death whether by his

hand or his enemys. Hamlet wants to kill himself because of events unfolding around him that

he cannot do anything about. One of these events that torments him is the death of the king, his

father. As the play progresses, Hamlet strays from his own suicide to the thought of why people

even decide to live. He contemplates why bother with the burdens of life instead of ending it on

your own accord. Hamlet is moving from a state of grief and depression into a state of action.

Hamlet wants Claudius murder to be executed perfectly so that his father can be rightfully

avenged. Hamlets obsession comes from his grief and revenge for his father. As Hamlet's plan

unfolds his own personal interests contribute to his ambitions.

One example of Hamlets obsession with death is his desire to kill himself. Hamlet

expresses his suicidal thoughts when he says, Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fixed. His canon 'gainst self-

slaughter! O God, God!(Pg 29 Line 133). Hamlet is being tormented by the events that have

unfolded around him. He is disgusted that his mother would marry her husbands brother so

shortly after her husband's death. Even more because Hamlet Sr was such a loving husband to his

wife. Hamlet also does not agree that Claudius deserves to be king, especially when compared to

his father. Hamlet expresses his disagreement by comparing the one to the other as a Hyperion

to a satyr (Pg 29 Line 144). These events leave Hamlet feeling empty and stale, as if he is

drifting through life without much thought. If Hamlets religion allowed self murder he would

commit suicide. Even before Hamlet has the incentive to murder Claudius, he already wants to

kill himself because of his grief and depression. His desire for death is not directed outward

towards his fathers killer but inward towards himself.

Hamlet moves away from self murder, and turns towards the murder of Claudius, his

fathers killer. Hamlet uses his hate and disgust for Claudius to motivate him towards his goal of

getting revenge. Because of this, Hamlet is no longer grieving and feeling sorry for himself, but

instead he has turned into a man of action with a plan. The problem though, is that Hamlet wants

the murder to be executed perfectly. Hamlet wants to avenge his father, while also ensuring that

Claudius ends up in hell for his actions. This can be seen when Hamlet says, To take him in the

purging of his soul. When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No. Up, sword, and know thou

a more horrid hent (Pg 167 Line 90). Hamlet wants to ensure that Claudius knows what he did

was wrong and pays for his actions. Hamlet becomes so obsessed with Claudius murder that he

ends up over complicating it. This shows how Hamlet is a perfectionist, although it ends up

costing him an opportunity to kill Claudius. Hamlet had the perfect chance to murder Claudius

while he was praying, but he did not want to end Claudius life on a good conscious. He does not

see the point in dirtying his blade if it would not send Claudius to hell. This shows that Hamlet is

now more interested in making Claudius death a statement, than avenging his father.

Life is both a curse and a blessing that nobody asked for, but people must decide what to

do with the time that is given to them. Hamlet realizes that death is a sweet escape from life's

troubles, where one can go off into an endless sleep. He realizes this in his soliloquy when he

says To die, to sleepNo moreand by a sleep to say we end. The heartache and the thousand

natural shocks. (Pg 127 Line 68). Although, Hamlet is not discussing himself, but in a general

sense about why people decide to deal with the tragedies of life, since a quick knife to your

throat will put all someones troubles behind them. Although, what happens after life is unknown

and frightening, which makes cowards of us all. No one has returned from the dead to share what

is beyond, except Hamlets father. Hamlets father declines to share the details of life after death
by saying But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold

whose lightest word. Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood (Pg 57 Line 18).

Hamlets father describes hell to be to horrible to describe to a mortal, which helps set the image

of what life is after death. Hamlet knows that if he were to succeed in killing Claudius, then he

would be sentenced to hell like his father, and he as well would have to experience what his

father describes. This is not a random thought, but one that Hamlet has been pondering for quite

a while now, about what truly happens after death and if he is ready to accept it.

The passing of Hamlets father brings grief and vengeance which causes Hamlet to gain

an obsession with death. As time passes, Hamlets personal interests contribute to his ambitions.

Hamlet is obsessive about the lurking thought of suicide because of the events around him that

cause him torment and despair. His suicidal thoughts only contribute to the lurk of death since

his fathers passing. The lurk of death pushes Hamlet to contemplate the want to be alive, instead

of ending one's torment with an eternal slumber. Finally, Hamlets need to be a perfectionist

pushes him to over complicate the murder of Claudius, causing him to obsess about the timing of

the deed. Hamlets sulking and anger lead him to his demise, which shows that even the best laid

plans can be foiled by a poisoned and clouded mind.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Barbara

A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2012. Print.
Rough Copy
Topic: The play shows an obsession with death. Is this a reasonable comment?

Question: Is Hamlet obsessed with death?

Thesis: Hamlets obsession comes from his grief and revenge for his father. As Hamlet's plan
unfolds his own personal interests contribute to his ambitions.

4 Reasons:
1. Hamlet wants to kill himself because of all the torment he is experiencing.
2. Hamlet contemplates why people even decide to be alive in the to be or not to be
3. As the play play progresses Hamlet becomes obsessed with the murder of
Claudius. He becomes obsessed with it by the end by making it a perfect murder where
he enacts his revenge on Claudius.
4. Hamlets father being murdered

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