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How Hamlet’s attitude towards death changes during the play.

Uploaded by ukgirl86 on Nov 20, 2003

"Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away." Using this quotation as a starting point, discuss how Hamlet’s attitude towards death changes during the play.


Hamlet’s attitude towards death changes dramatically. He changes from a troubled man, very fearful of the unknown, and of death, into a confident person, who understands the reality of death. Ultimately he dies, but this is only because of a dramatic change in his attitude towards death, and there are many reasons as to why his attitude changes so much.
At the start of the play, we see Hamlet as a very troubled character. His father the King has just died, and his mother has hastily married his uncle whom is the new King. Hamlet is suffering from intense grief and is angry about the way his father's death has been dealt with. He becomes obsessed with death and its effects. It is in act 3 during his third soliloquy that he discusses death openly, and more bluntly he contemplates committing suicide "to be or not to be". Hamlet sees suicide very much as an escape from all of the troubles surrounding his present life. He longs for death in a time of such intense grief and misery, but he has doubts over whether it is morally the right thing to do "Or that the Everlasting had not fixed his cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter". At the time, Christian views on suicide were very strong. It was thought that suicide would lead to eternal suffering in hell. Hamlet knows that suicide is thought of as a sin, and he fears the afterlife. It is this fear, he concludes, "makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others we know not of."
It is because Hamlet fears the afterlife that he does not take his own life. He is worried that the afterlife will be no better than his present life, or even that it may be worse. It is the
"Dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from who’s bourn
No travellers return"
Hamlet would have only very religious views on death and the afterlife. Suicide would bring everlasting suffering in hell, and he may end up having to serve in purgatory like his father. The strong religious views on the afterlife would impose fear and uncertainty...

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Uploaded by:   ukgirl86

Date:   11/20/2003

Category:   Hamlet

Length:   8 pages (1,749 words)

Views:   17514

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