Hamlet is portrayed as a deeply troubled, disturbed young man who is struggling to cope with the sudden death of his father and his mother's marriage to his unscrupulous uncle Claudius. Towards the end of act 1, scene 2, Hamlet offers a moving soliloquy where he laments his terrible situation and contemplates committing suicide. He says,
Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't, ah fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. ... (Shakespeare, 1.2.12
Hamlet clearly views suicide as a possible option to put an end to his emotional anguish. Hamlet desires to commit suicide but does not want to damn his soul. According to Hamlet's Christian theology, his soul would go to hell if he committed suicide: this seems to be the only thing preventing him from taking his own life. Hamlet laments the fact that God has "fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter," which is why he will not take his own life. Later in the play, Hamlet once again contemplates suicide during his famous soliloquy in act 3, scene 1. Hamlet says,
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep. (Shakespeare, 3.1.57-65)
Hamlet is questioning whether it is nobler to remain alive and suffer the troubles of life or to commit suicide and end his struggles once and for all. Hamlet believes that he can only find solace and peace in death, which he compares to sleep. Hamlet continues to contemplate suicide by analyzing the nature of death and acknowledging that the fear of the unknown is what prevents people from ending their lives. Hamlet elaborates on death by saying,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all... (Shakespeare, 3.1.80-84)
Hamlet certainly entertains the idea of committing suicide but is reluctant to follow through with taking his life because he is afraid of what lies beyond the physical realm. Hamlet's Christian theology leads him to view suicide as a mortal sin, and his fear of the unknown also contributes to his trepidation. Essentially, Hamlet desires to take his life but fears the outcome. Hamlet acknowledges that suicide is a reasonable option to solve his problems but believes that taking his life would result in an eternity in hell, which is why he refrains from committing suicide.