The Logic of Suicide - Hamlet

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Hamlet’s first important soliloquy takes place during Act one, scene two, right after he was forced to put up with the unpleasant scene at Gertrude and Claudius’ court, then having his mother and new step father request that he remain in Denmark, as opposed to returning to his studies at Wittenberg, which was against the prince’s wishes. This is the first time that Hamlet speaks of suicide through saying that he desired his flesh to “melt”, also stating that the world is “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.” He reasons at this point that suicide would, in fact be the best option, rather than living in a pain-filled world, but he ponders a moment and comes to the conclusion that this temptation must be resisted, as suicide would go against his religion. Which brings us to Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy – spoken in act three; scene one – shows the Hamlet characters true thoughts on the matter of life versus self death versus natural/forced death. At first, Hamlet examines the moral legitimacy of ending one’s own life - when one has an obscene amount of pain weighing on one’s self - in the form of a logical question, “To be or not to be” – to live, or not to live – at which point he makes a critical examination of the two sides, weighing the consequences of both options. He asks if it is “Nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” – life – passively, and simply endure the pain, or to be active in your protests and end your own life. He then proceeds to compare death to sleeping, and contemplates the end of suffering and questions that it might bring to him, or as he put it: “the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to”. It is at this point that he decides that suicide would be the desirable course of action, but then realizes that there is more to the question, such as, what will happen in the afterlife.

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