Hamlet Compared with Lady Lazarus Essay examples

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Compare the ways in which Shakespeare and Plath explore the theme of mortality in Hamlet and Lady Lazarus.

In both Lady Lazarus and Hamlet the semantic field of mortality and death can be clearly seen. Hamlet’s second soliloquy, ‘To be or not to be’ can be found in act three, when Polonius and Claudius are hiding behind a wall listening to how Hamlet responds to Ophelia. Although there is a huge time difference between when they were written it is surprisingly similar in its semantic field of vocabulary to Lady Lazarus written in the 1950s by Sylvia Plath. There is also a huge difference in the type of genre that the texts are and the intended audience for them. Hamlet was intended to be performed and so has many more emotions expressed
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However, Hamlet does not see this as a negative thing as that is what he wants, as he expresses an emotion that is similar to his first soliloquy. The poem Lady Lazarus is similar to this as the persona views death as the final place and where she will eventually die as she says: “Flesh, bone, there is nothing there-”. This shows that she views it as final and the fact that there is nothing beyond.

However, there are also some differences between Hamlet and Lady Lazarus. In the poem, the persona keeps referring to her body as individual parts and so has connotations of the fact that the persona is not one person, but many objects because the persona expresses it this way;
“The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breathe
Will vanish in a day.”
This shows that she is also dehumanising herself and using a metaphor to make her appear as an object rather than as a person. She also knows that she can transform into something different and achieve her mission of suicide if she wishes as she uses the simile “And like the cat I have nine times to die.” This shows that she can die more than once, whereas in Hamlet, Hamlet wants to die and never come back as he says that he could kill himself with a dagger, through the saying
“When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?...”
He continues to say something and it seems as if for a minute he has forgotten about the ghost as he thinks that death is the end as he says
“The undiscover’d country

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