In Act 3 scene 1 and 2 of Hamlet, comment on these lines in Hamlet's soliloquy.“who would fardels bear,/To grunt and sweat under a weary life,/but that dread of something after death,/ The...

In Act 3 scene 1 and 2 of Hamlet, comment on these lines in Hamlet's soliloquy.

“who would fardels bear,/To grunt and sweat under a weary life,/but that dread of something after death,/ The undiscover’d country from whose bourn/ No traveler returns, puzzles the will,/And makes us rather bear those ills we have/Than fly to others that we know not of?”

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This extract is from the famous "To be, or not to be" fourth soliloquy in Hamlet in which the young prince contemplates the existential question of meaning in life.  In this soliloquy Hamlet virtually wallows in his melancholy, but because he is Catholic and suicide is a mortal sin punishable by the soul's being put in hell, Hamlet engages in much self-debate over ending his misery.  Indeed, it is this fear of the unknown--

Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death

--that causes people to bear whatever burdens live deals them.  And, thus, Hamlet concludes "conscience makes cowards of us all."  For, it is the fear of the next life, what punishment it may hold and what miseries lie therein--"the undiscover'd country"--from which no one has returned to report on it that people bear their "ills," their heartaches and dilemmas, their misery and suffering, rather than end their lives.

 

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