The subject of death is one of the most moving in Hamlet. The protagonist’s views on death change over the course of the play. He is concerned about an afterlife and whether mortality and religion are connected. Hamlet continues to think about it until he accepts it. Death does not appear to be frightening or awful until Hamlet understands how important life is.
At the outset, he asks himself if it is worthwhile to live and fight, or whether it is better not to exist in this world. Hamlet’s thoughts on death progress as follows throughout the story:
- It’s like living a dream, or something. The fear of death and thoughts of suicide are similar to that.
- It’s not possible to commit suicide because God exists.
- Accepting the truth of death is one way to prepare for it.
- Hamlet is deeply affected by the death of Ophelia, and he recognizes the significance of life.
When Hamlet discovers about his father’s death and his mother’s second marriage, he considers suicide more than once. His eyes are being destroyed by the fact that human life is losing value. His father was a wonderful person who died and the bad guy triumphs. Hamlet, a supporter of humanity, becomes the reason for several deaths later in the play as an advocate for humanity.
Hamlet compares death and sleeps in Act III, Scene 1 of his suicidal soliloquy:
To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep
Hamlet does not have a well-defined desire to commit suicide because he is preoccupied with death. His wish to die is tentative and uncertain. Because God forbids it, suicide is impossible for Hamlet.
O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
(Act I, Scene 3).
It’s convoluted, but committing suicide isn’t difficult. After all, death is a dream comparable to sleep. Death does not end pain; Hamlet is unsure of what happens to people after they die. He isn’t sure whether mental suffering ever goes away with death. “The undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns”
Hamlet’s dread of death makes him renounce action and fight. Hamlet is compelled to acknowledge that the man’s premonition has destroyed his resolve. In Act V, Scene 1, Hamlet’s conversation at the graveyard reveals that he has found inner calm. The gravedigger, who is used to seeing dead bodies, makes crude jibes about human mortality. Hamlet cannot bring himself to accept the fact that even great people will eventually die.
Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam, and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?
But Hamlet’s thoughts about death have changed since then. He was previously incensed by nature’s injustice. His ideas on dying scared him. There is a bitter irony in his phrases now. Hamlet comes to terms with death’s inevitability.
Hamlet’s initial apathy to death is swiftly erased when he learns of Ophelia’s suicide. He rushes to the tomb of Ophelia in a cloud of sorrow. At this time, Hamlet comprehends the devastation that death can cause.
In Act V, Scene 2, Laertes kills Hamlet before being himself beheaded. Before Laertes slashes his throat, the prince fights to defend himself. He used to think about committing suicide, but now he understands how valuable life is and wants to live for himself. He is certain that after death, everything will improve.