Critical Analysis Of Hamlet Essay, Research Paper
What is mans’ purpose in life? Is there a purpose? If there isn’t, then is it wise to end it,
despite the fact that there might be nothing better? In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Hamlet
struggles with these and other issues. He states that the question of life is “To be, or not to be…?” Is
existence really worth the troubles of life? In this monologue, Hamlet is wondering what is his
purpose. He asserts that the only reason people endure their horrible lives is the uncertainty of what
lies after death. “Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread
of something after death…” Is it noble to suffer, and is life worth all its misery? Hamlet must
question himself to discover the answers.
At the point in Hamlet when this famous soliloquy takes place, Hamlet has many reasons to
be questioning his existence. Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his late father, who explains that he
was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, who is Hamlet’s mother’s new husband. His father cannot rest
until Hamlet has gotten revenge. Hamlet’s father has just been murdered, his friends are sent to spy
on him, his lover is forbidden to see him, and Hamlet feels that his life is pointless and miserable.
“The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit
of the unworthy takes…” These are the miseries that Hamlet must endure. This is why he makes this
speech to himself, almost as if he is convincing himself that there are reasons to stay living. Most
everyone in Hamlet is leading a horrible life. Hamlet’s mother has just lost a husband, his uncle is
worried and guilt-stricken over the terrible crime he committed of murdering his brother, and
Ophelia, Hamlet’s lover, is miserable because her half-witted father has forbidden her to see Hamlet.
This soliloquy pertanes not only to Hamlet, but to virtually all the characters in the play. All the
characters are “bear[ing] the whips and scorns” of their piteous lives.
The monologue is not only relevant to the characters in Hamlet, but to all people. Many
people feel at some point that their lives are not worth living . They may question if life has a
purpose, and whether or not they are serving that purpose. It is quite easy to relate to Hamlet’s
feelings of woe and uncertainty. This is what makes Hamlet timeless. No matter what century,
country, or person, everyone has experienced to some degree what Hamlet endured. Perhaps
someone has just lost a father, or undergone a divorce. They could relate to Hamlet’s misery. They
may not contemplate suicide, as is what is sometimes believed about Hamlet, but they do have
questions about life, and the afterlife. Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s feelings to express his own, as
well as those of all people. Because of this, Hamlet has become a classic.
Hamlet’s character represents people in all circumstances. He questions everything, and has
experienced love, hate, betrayal, depression, grief, and anger. He is sometimes used to represent
the Biblical view of life, to “turn the other cheek” in situations when he would like to get revenge. As
Hazlitt states, “It is we who are Hamlet.” Everyone has undergone the struggle to decide whether
turning the other cheek would be best, whether their life is really worth all its troubles, and what
happens after death. The reoccuring themes of revenge, death, and right and wrong, can relate to
anyone. People experience these things every day. Because Hamlet represents everyone, the
soliloquy in which he questions his life has become extremely famous. “To be, or not to be, that is
the question…” This single line in poetry has been immortalized because, in fact, that is the question.