Can you help me form a thesis about Shakespeare's Hamlet?I'd like to talk about Hamlet's view on life and how he never really intended to give up...

Can you help me form a thesis about Shakespeare's Hamlet?

I'd like to talk about Hamlet's view on life and how he never really intended to give up on life and he understands the decay and death that goes on during one's life. 

 

 

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You've said that you'd like to talk about Hamlet's view of life, how he never really intends to give up on it, and that he understands the decay that takes place during one's life, eventually leading to one's death.  You might consider this wording: Throughout the play, Hamlet develops a nuanced view of life and death, moving past his initial feelings of angst and despair over his father's death to a more detailed and mature understanding of life and the necessity of and symbolism associated with death.  

This way, you could begin by discussing Hamlet's initial, purely emotional response to his father's death as well as the way it combines with his feelings of betrayal as a result of his mother's incestuous relationship with her brother-in-law, Hamlet's uncle.  It isn't just his father's death that upsets him, but it is her very hasty marriage and her choice of partner.  This all goes into his wish to disappear.  He doesn't wish for death so much as he wishes that his "sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew" (1.2.133-134).  However, he later begins to understand death as the great equalizer (consider his argument that a king can be buried, eaten by the worm, the worm is eaten by a fish, and the fish is eaten by a beggar; thus a king can "pass through the guts of a beggar"), as a necessary part of life, and finally as something that is provided for by God, just as "the fall of a sparrow" is" (5.2.234).  

bianchijoe | Student

In spite of his fascination with decay and death (see the "poor Yorick" soliloquy), I don't think that Hamlet wants to commit suicide. In fact, he doesn't really want to do anything, except go back to school in Wittenburg.  But when he swears to avenge his father's murder in Act I, that path is closed to him.  The realization that his life as he knows it is already over leads him to contemplate his other options, none of which he finds very appealing. 

While many view Hamlet as suicidal, it could be argued that he's just struggling with existential angst. His father's death has obviously affected him a great deal, and he's wrestling with the absurdity of death and all of its unknowns throughout much of the play. His "To be or not to be" soliloquy is probably the most overtly "suicidal" speech, but in the end he concludes that not knowing what comes after death makes us remain "cowards" who continue living.  

In many ways, this mirrors his overall attitude regarding his primary dilemma. His hesitation to kill Claudius seems to be rooted in fear, so he spends much of the play simply stalling for time: faking madness, manipulating Ophelia's emotions, constructing ways to expose Claudius, toying with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and generally avoiding taking any real, meaningful action.  

 

 

Read the study guide:
Hamlet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question