Analyze and explain Shakespeare's theme of death in Hamlet.

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Death drives the play Hamlet. First, King Hamlet dies at the hands of his own brother, Claudius. Next, Hamlet sees his father's ghost who insists that young Hamlet take revenge. Hamlet is then consumed with a desire to avenge his fathr's death.

Polonius dies at the hands of Hamlet who thinks he is killing Claudius. Ophelia drowns herself. Claudius then orders that Hamlet be killed. Hamlet reverses the death sentence for his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

Hamlet tells Horatio that he rewrote the papers carried by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and that the letters now call for their own deaths.

In the end, Laertes stabs Hamlet with the poisoned blade, and Hamlet is dying, but not before his beloved mother drinks the poison meant for him. Hamlet forces Claudius to drink the remainder of poison that Claudius had intended for Hamlet. At this point, Hamlet has stabbed Laertes and Claudius with the poisoned blade of the sword.

Gertrude, Hamlet's mother is dead. Claudius is dying. Laertes has been stabbed with the poisoned sword and is dying, and Hamlet has been stabbed as well. The entire play is focused on death.