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Hamlet and Suicide

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Shakespeare's Hamlet, was written during the Renaissance period. The Renaissance valued the accomplishments of the Greek and Romans (Guisepi). The intellectuals of this period wished to recover what was lost during the Middle Ages. For that reason the Renaissance is known as a "rebirth" of art and culture (Guisepi). Hamlet, is one of Shakespeare's well known plays. It is a tragedy because the plot allows for great suffering of the "hero" or main character. In the play, the tragic hero, Hamlet, is visited by the ghost of his father. His father had died a month before, and his mother has remarried. From the ghost Hamlet learns that his uncle, Claudius, who had just married his mother, murdered his father. Throughout the play Hamlet seeks to prove the ghost is being truthful and to take revenge on Claudius. Due the situations in the play certain themes arise. One major theme is the idea of suicide. There is an emphasis on the supernatural in Shakespeare's plays. During the Renaissance, the idea of suicide was considered to be a crime and a mortal sin. Shakespeare handles the topic in several different ways. In Hamlet, suicide is an important theme. Throughout the play, Shakespeare makes it clear that although most people are capable of committing suicide, they still choose life over death.

The Renaissance was the first time when the Bible was printed in a language other than Latin, so that the common farmers could read the word of God for themselves. The Catholic church was opposed to this. The Renaissance held similar views as the church, when regarding suicide (Cholbi). Suicide was considered a sin, and was also against the law during this period (Ferngren 155). Often those who had committed suicide were denied consecrated gr...

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Works Cited

Cholbi, Michael, "Suicide", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford. edu/archives/fall2 009/entries/

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Ferngren, Gary B. "The Ethics of Suicide in the Renaissance and Reformation." Suicide and Euthanasia: Historical and Contemporary Themes. Ed. Baruch A. Brody. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1989. 155-81. Print.

Guisepi, R. A. "History of the Renaissance in Europe: A Rebirth, Renewal, Rediscovery."World History International: World History Essays From Prehistory To The Present. Ed. R. A. Guisepi. The University of Californa. Web. 27 July 2011. .

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Norton Anthology of Western

Literature Vol. 1 Eighth Ed. Sarah Lawall, Ed. New York: Norton, 2006, 2409-

2499.
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