Is Hamlet's life worth living?Is Hamlet's life worth living?

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jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

It is interesting and worthy of thought. He is given a sort of divine directive to act. Following through on that action would leave him in a rather untenable situation. He would be committing regicide and would have to both carry out this action while justifying it. Horatio's presence is then most important. Is there any assumption that he would simply become King after avenging his father's death? He never even mentions it. He lacks any sort of ambition towards the crown. Is there any possible way that marrying Ophelia and gaining the throne would be possible? Not with the machinations of Polonius and Claudius. R+G give him no breathing room and only act as spies.
The idea that he has any sort of path through this is muddy.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Absolutely.  My grandmother always said to me, "You may not be able to controll WHAT happens to you, but you can always control HOW you handle it."  Hamlet's problem is not that his life isn't worth living, it's that he is unable to decide how to proceed with the knowledge that his uncle murdered his father and stole Hamlet's birthright.  The what is bad enough for him, but the how is what drives him insane and ultimately to his death.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I'm surprised that anyone would answer "no" to this question. EVERY life is "worth" living. Of course, we all have hardships. Of course there are days when we feel like giving up. But life is a wonderful gift, and no matter how bad a day or a few days may be, we can always rise above. Hamlet is a very young man. He is still in college, so he has to be under 25. How could you possibly say that the rest of his life will be as sad as it is right now???

podunc's profile pic

podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

While Hamlet does not appear to have decided whether his life is worth living or not, I believe it is. He is in a position of leadership as the Prince of Denmark, and his citizens are counting on him. He is the one who has the best chance of salvaging the country after the reign of Claudius.

Also, if one agrees with Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worth living," then perhaps we can also say the examined life is worth living! No one examines himself more thoroughly than Hamlet.

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I absolutely believe Hamlet's life is worth living, yes.  Despite facing horribly tragic events in his life, he is blessed in many other ways.  I've seen real people face much more difficult times in their lives and not give up hope.  I'm an eternal optimist!

monkstir75's profile pic

monkstir75 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

First we must compare the pros and cons of Hamlet's life.  His father was murdered by Hamlet's uncle, then his uncle married Hamlet's mom, Ophelia doesn't love him, a ghost is haunting him and persuading Hamlet to kill King Claudius (Hamlet's murdering uncle), while it could very well be satan tricking him, and now he has to move away from everything and everyone he has ever known and go to England by himself.  Thus, no, Hamlet's life is not worth living unless he expects his life to get better very soon. 

hamlet930's profile pic

hamlet930 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes, because he needs to avenge his fathers death. Although his father was murdered by his uncle, his mother betrayed his father, and his friends are now on his uncle's side he still has a reason to live.

hamletislikethebest's profile pic

hamletislikethebest | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes.  He's a prince, he's wealthy, what more could you ask for. Yes, his father was murdered and his mother married his uncle after, but Hamlet is young.  He has many years left to have happy memories and to fulfill his wants and needs. 

pyt972's profile pic

pyt972 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes and no....yes because he could possibly go on and have a fine life. He has Ophelia...but his father is dead and his mother married his uncle. No because he murdered Polonius and there are lots of messed up things in his life, he might just be depressed for a long time. that kinda sucks.

callmed18's profile pic

callmed18 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Now granted his entire life has been altered by the death of his father and the nearly immediate marriage of his queen mother to his uncle whom actually is the reason for the unfortunate death to begin with. I honestly think Hamlet's life is only worth living if he can take the mature road and overlook his past to overcome the obstacles lying in front of him. I would like to believe that everybody has a purpose, and Hamlet has yet to serve his to my knowledge. Hamlet needs to live, to be the only noble character left, to be there for others, to do what is right!

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