Image of Death Illustrated in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The character of Hamlet is very diverse and has incredible depth. He is described as a very melancholy and thoughtful young man. He is a student at the University of Wittenberg, and the current heir to the throne of Demark, which seem to be a very hopeful prospect. However, ever since his father’s death and plea for revenge upon his brother, Hamlet has been deterred from this request by lengthy ponderings of the purpose of a person’s life and their memorial after death.

From the very beginning of the play, Hamlet is seen as being a person who is very conscious of mortality. The first time that we see him, he is mourning the recent death of his father and dressed in, as he refers to it, an “inky cloak” (1.2.77). Claudius and Gertrude are both trying to talk some sense into him by telling him that people lose fathers all the time and that he is no different from anyone else in the world. Gertrude asks him why he “seems” so sad, and he quickly replies that he doesn’t just “seem” sad, but that he really is sad and grieving for his lost father. Claudius tells him that “obstinate condolement is a course of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief.” (1.2.93-94) The irony here is that Claudius is telling Hamlet that his excessive mourning is a “fault to heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature” (1.2.101-102) when he himself is the murderer, this being the much greater fault.

The image of death is brought back up many different times through the play. One of the first major events is when Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his own father. This embodiment of death starts the flow of the whole story when he exposed the means and manner of his death by his own brother, Claudius’s hand. He entreats Hamlet to exact rev...

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...d that even though he was a great man, “Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a beerbarrel?” (5.1.194-198) It doesn’t matter how important someone is, they still will die and become dust, just like any other man.

After all this contemplation of death and suicide, Hamlet finally arrives at his own conclusion on the matter. Before he goes to face Laertes in his final dual, he comes to terms with death. “If it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, It will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.” (5.2.206-209) Death is going to happen to everyone, all that can be done is to be ready for it when it does finally arrive
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