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Todie or not to die: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

WilliamShakespeare explores the theme of death in a broad and profoundmanner, all through the play. He captures the interest of the readersregarding death right from the first scene. In the first scene, theghost of Hamlet’s father visits him. The scene portrays the themeof revenge, suicide, murder, and death, which have repeatedly beenplayed. Hamlet plans to take revenge, as a way of avenging the deathof his father. He also addresses his own fears and feelings aboutdeath (Shakespeare1.2.133-134).The play shows the comparisons of the deaths of various characters.Although the William Shakespeare’s Hamletplaydepicts some different themes, the theme of death is evident andapparently, some people are supposed to die, while others are notsupposed to die.

Apparentlyand according to Hamlet, Claudius is supposed to die. When the fatherof Hamlet dies, he visits Hamlet in the form of his ghost and revealsto him that Claudius killed him. Ironically,the ghost further reveals that Claudius, his blood brother, killedhimbecause he wanted to marry Gertrude the Queen, so as to gain accessto the throne. For this reason, Hamlet swears never to leave Claudiuslive, for killing his father. As a result, Hamlet begins to putthings in order, plotting to execute Claudius. Unfortunately, theplot becomes very sophisticated, leading to the killing of almost allthe characters, without the exception of Hamlet’s father-in-lawcalled Polonius and Hamlet himself (Baker55).Evidently, Hamlet considers death from a myriad of perspectives. Heconsiders the spiritual aftermath, which is embodied in his father.He also considers the remainders of death such as the skull of Yorickand the decaying dead bodies found in the cemetery. Another importantthing to note from the play is that the idea of death has been linkedclosely to other themes such as truth, uncertainty, and spirituality,which may offer answers concerning the deepest questions of Hamlet.One of the questions concerns who is supposed to die, to avengeHamlet’s father. Since death may be regarded as the root as well asthe repercussion of revenge, it is apparent that Claudia should dieto end the quest for revenge for killing Hamlet’s father. Ascomparedto Hamlet’s father,Claudius deserves death.

Itis ironic that Hamlet dies when he is not supposed to die.However, the question of committing suicide eats him, making himponder about the death of his own. He contemplates whether thisaction can be ethically legitimate in this world the world that isunbearably painful. According to himself, he is supposed to die so asto avoid going through misery and grief (Shakespeare1.2.133-134).He thinks that ending his life will end his suffering, but he alsothinks otherwise. Fears grasp him making him have a narrower anddeeper look into his thoughts. He figures out that if he takes awayhis life, he will go to hell and while there, he will be consigned toeternal suffering since the religion of Christians prohibits the actsof suicide. What the Christian religion is suggesting to Hamlet isthat he is not supposed to die through committing suicide. As such,itcould also be ironic if Hamlet, a Christian, commits suicide.In his soliloquyof“to be or not to be,” he metaphysically makes up his mind that noindividual is supposed to opt to tolerate the grief of life if theywere not petrified of what may transpire after death (Shakespeareand Rowe 44).Again and still in his soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates that it is sucha fear that causes sophisticated ethical reflections to impede theaction capacity. Also, the comparisonof the Christian faith and Hamlet’s thoughts concerning deathis clear.

Polonius,Ophelia, Laertes, Queen Gertrude, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz arenot supposed to die. Their death is just caused by the vow of Hamletto revenge the murder of his father by plotting to kill Claudius(Shakespeare1.5.100).Eventually, the revenge results in the deaths of several othercharacters including Hamlet’s future father-in-law known asPolonius, Ophelia who is Hamlet’s future bride, Queen Gertrudethe mother of Hamlet, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz. It is apparentthat these individuals were not supposed to die. Their death was justbrought about by the process of Hamlet’s revenge for the death ofhis father. It is also quite unfortunate that in the same process,Hamlet loses his life as well. Hamlet reckons how death looks like(ActI sc. 2),but due to the fear of the uncertain in death, his fascinationenables the reader to understand his fears, feelings, thoughts, aswell as actions that result in the deaths of numerous othercharacters who were not supposed to die.

Toconclude, William Shakespeare’s Hamletplaydepicts the theme of death where some people are supposed to die,while others are not supposed to die. The issue of deaths starts fromthe point where Hamlet’s father dies, and his ghost reveals themurderer to him, prompting Hamlet to plot for revenge. Hamletundergoes intense pain and grief and questions his mortality. Hespeaks of his wish to die, but apparently, he is not supposed to die.Other characters that are not supposed to die include Polonius,Ophelia, Laertes, Queen Gertrude, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz.However, Claudius is supposed to die since he killed the father ofHamlet just because he was angry for power. Itis ironic that he murders Hamlet’s father, who is his bloodbrother.Marrying Queen Gertrude, the mother of Hamlet could help Claudius toascend to power.


Baker,William.&nbspWilliamShakespeare.2nd ed. London: New York, 2012. Print.

Shakespeare,William and Nicholas Rowe.&nbspTheWorks of Mr. William Shakespear.4th ed. [New York]: [AMS Press], 2011. Print.

Shakespeare,William.&nbspHamlet.1st ed. London: Printed for J. Tonson, and the rest of theproprietors, 1734. Print.