In one paragraph, or five points, summarize Hamlet's famous "To be, or not to be" speech.

In his famous "To be, or not to be" speech, Hamlet contemplates suicide. He questions whether it is nobler to suffer or to end his life, and he lists all the burdens of living. Yet his fear of what comes after death and the dictates of his conscience prevent him from killing himself.

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To help you get started on this question, let's take a look at the context and main components of Hamlet's famous "To be, or not to be" speech.

In this monologue, Hamlet is contemplating suicide. He has been driven almost to the point of despair by his father's murder and by his own attempts to figure out what to do about it. The question for Hamlet, then, is to be, as in to keep on living, or not to be, to eliminate himself from this life. He wonders which option is nobler, to suffer or to end the suffering. He wishes for a final sleep that would end all "the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to."

Yet Hamlet does not know for sure what comes after death, and this stays his hand. A long life is a horrible burden, for it contains "the whips and scorns of time," oppression, "despised love," and injustice. Hamlet thinks it would be so much easier just to stab himself and be done with it all, but he dreads what would come next. Death is an "undiscover'd country." What's more, his conscience tells him that suicide is wrong, and his reason conquers his passion (although he doesn't really want it to). He will not act. He will choose to be.

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