Hamlets Obsession with Death

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Hamlet's Obsession With Death
In Hamlet, William Shakespeare presents the main character Hamlet as a man who is fixated on death. Shakespeare uses this obsession to explore both Hamlet's desire for revenge and his need for assurance. In the process, Shakespeare directs Hamlet to reflect on basic principles such as justice and truth by offering many examples of Hamlet's compulsive behavior; as thoughts of death are never far from his mind. It is apparent that Hamlet is haunted by his father's death. When Hamlet encounters the ghost of his father, their conversation raises all kinds of unthinkable questions, for example murder by a brother, unfaithful mother, that triggers Hamlet's obsession. He feels compelled to determine the reliability of the ghost's statements so that he can determine how he must act. Ultimately, it is his obsession with death that leads to Hamlet avenging the death of his father by killing Claudius.
In act 3, Hamlet questions the unbearable pain of life and views death through the metaphor of sleep. "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" (3.1.64-68), details which bring up new thoughts about what happens in the after life. Thus, Hamlet contemplates suicide, but his lacking knowledge about what awaits him in the afterworld causes him to question what death will bring. For example he states, "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" (3.1.87-90), again revealing his growing concern with "Truth" and his need for certainty. Once again, death appears in act 4 with the suicide of Ophelia, the demand for Hamlet's execution and the gravedigger scene. All of these situations tie back with how death is all around Hamlet and feeds his obsession with it. Finally in act 5, Hamlet meets his own death, as his obsession to know leads to the death of himself.
Hamlet's obsession with death also fuels his desire for revenge, for instance when he revisits the ghost and he explains how he died. Hamlet, saying, "O my prophetic soul! My uncle'" (1.5.48), realizes that Cla...

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...ive it both in heaven and through having to live with her heavy conscience.
Hamlet also learns about justice through the lesson of forgiveness. Since he realizes that everyone will eventually die and get their just punishments, he is able to move from obsession to understanding and forgiveness. Hamlet also learns that outcomes may vary since other people may not share the same thoughts about whether or not to forgive. The ghost of Hamlet's father forgives Gertrude, because he knows she will be judged elsewhere; Leartes cannot forgive Hamlet because he has not come to this realization. However each of these situations brings Hamlet to understand more about human nature. Hamlet realizes that people are ultimately held responsible for their actions, whether through punishment and a heavy conscience in this life or in the uncertain world of the afterlife. Despite all of his desire for the truth, Hamlet slowly comes to realize that very notion of the truth is, in fact, questionable. Through confronting his anger and his personal need for revenge, Hamlet finally understands that the only thing that is certain is death itself.
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