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What Happens After Somebody Dies?

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What happens after somebody dies? Do their legacies live on or does it dissipate? Do they go to heaven or to hell? In Hamlet, by Shakespeare the Title character delves into these questions in the tragedy. In the play, Hamlet explores multiple questions for what happens after death. According to Hamlet, heaven, hell, and purgatory do exist and is dependent on what one does in the real life, but what one does on the earth does not affect their legacy.

Before the ghost comes and tells him that Claudius has killed him and that he is stuck in purgatory Hamlet is depressed about his fathers death. After a ceremony celebrating Claudius and Gertrude, the new king and queen of Denmark, Hamlet is alone and speaks his first soliloquy. In addition, at this point in the play it is known that Hamlet is not acting and is sincere. In his first monologue he says, “O that this sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew”(Act 1 scene 2 line 129-130). Here he is suicidal because his father is dead, his uncle has taken over the crown, and his mother has abandoned him. To respond to this Hamlet would like to “resolve … into a dew” or kill himself. Soon after Hamlet mentions, “Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter”(Act 1 scene 2 line 131-132). Hamlet does not know for a fact if the afterlife exists, until after the ghost of his father appears, but he believes that the act of killing himself will cause him to go to hell.

More than halfway through the play, after the play “Mousetrap”, Hamlet’s plan to see if Claudius killed his father has worked. After Claudius stops the play he retreats to his chapel. While on his way to talk to his mother Hamlet sees him in the Chapel praying. Hamlet considers k...

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...d it is the living that has to suffer the most. So death, as long as it is not suicide, is not that bad to Hamlet. Throughout the play he seems to not care, as seen by him killing Polonius and toying with the body. However, he has a definitive view that his actions affected if he would go to heaven or hell and would not affect what would happen after death. Hamlet seems to believe this philosophy until the end when he utters his last words, “The rest is silence” (Act 5 scene 2 line 341). Hamlets last words are a powerful irony. First he supporting his previous claim that legacy dies once one has reached the afterlife. It also hints that he has avenged his father and he will “rest in silence” and he will as well. It is also ironic because the entire play Hamlet talks and talks, but all that talking leads to a silent rest, similar to Yorick and Alexander the Great.
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