Death alone can suddenly make man to know himself. Explain the relationship between death and knowledge in Hamlet.

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janeyb | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Well for Hamlet, with the death of his father, came the knowledge that Claudius killed his father. That, in of itself, starts the actions that control the whole of the play. Through avenging his father's death, Hamlet learns knowledge not only about others in his life (and their loyalties) but also about himself. Hamlet learned that he cannot/does not act with haste, that he is passive and resentful until he is spurned into action. Death is used by Shakespeare as a way to move along the plot of the play. Hamlet is an exceedingly mortal work: virtually all of the major characters—Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes—die from unnatural causes by the end of the play; the penultimate scene takes place in a cemetery. Death, decay, and the futility of life fill the spoken thoughts the Danish prince.

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