Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What did Hamlet think about death in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet?

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Hamlet is confused about death. He doesn't understand how death can be so distressing and personal, like the death of his own father, and so impersonal and meaningless, like the deaths of thousands of Fortinbras's soldiers over "a little patch of ground / That hath in it no profit but the name." (4.4.18-20)

HAMLET. Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw.
This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
Why the man dies. (4.4.26-30)

Hamlet questions what happens after death and comes to no conclusion.

HAMLET. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause ...

Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have

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Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, is encased in mystery, murder and death. Soldiers encounter the ghost of King Hamlet who is haunting the castle of Elsinore. The king, murdered by his brother Claudius, cannot rest until his death has been avenged. He approaches his son Prince Hamlet and assigns this task to him. But Hamlet hesitates to kill Claudius when the opportunity arises. He feels the need for more proof that his uncle actually murdered his father. He cannot kill Claudius while he is praying, afraid his uncle will be forgiven and go to heaven. This is evidence that Hamlet believes that death is not the end of a person’s soul. Death ends a person’s time on earth, but souls continue to heaven or hell.

In this line of his soliloquy and subsequent lines, Hamlet questions whether or not death is the better option: “To be or not to be, that is the question” (3.1.56). Death ends life’s struggles. It is a solution. It brings peace. A sweet sleep. He ponders whether he should live and endure life’s struggles and disappointments or die, possibly commit suicide, and go to eternal rest (5.2.222).

While Hamlet is dying, (5.2.356), he says: “Which have solicited. The rest is silence.” He informs Horatio that he wants Fortinbras to take the throne of Denmark. After expressing this desire, there is nothing more to say. His world goes silent. At his death he can no longer speak. However, he believes there is another world beyond this world. Beyond death.