Hamlet's Soliloquy-To Be Or Not To Be

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Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” in the eyes of Jung
"To be or not to be, that is the question” (3.1.56). Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy is arguably the most famous speech in the history of theatre. In his soliloquy, Shakespeare strikes a chord with a fundamental human concern: the validity and worthiness of life. Would it be simpler for us to enter a never-ending sleep when we find ourselves facing the daunting problems of life, rather than to "Suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"? (3.1.57-58) However, it is perhaps because we do not know what this endless sleep entails, that humans usually opt against suicide. "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause" …show more content…

According to Harold Bloom, Hamlet’s soliloquy “is the foundation for nearly everything he will say in act five, and can be called his death-speech-in-advance.” (Bloom 409) Therefore, Hamlet's soliloquy sums up the dilemma that haunts his mind and becomes a general analysis of the human condition.
Primarily, the dilemma that haunts Hamlet's mind is his thoughts on death. Hamlet feels that in death, we are free from the troubles of life and wonder if it is better "to take arms against a sea of troubles" (3.1.59) or to live life miserably. His "To be or not to be..." Suggests death or possible suicide; however, the subsequent lines pose two courses of action, which he, or one, …show more content…

The very reason for his soliloquy is to show that Hamlet is trying to reason with his conflicting thoughts on death, which then becomes a general analysis of the human condition. According to Carl Jung, Hamlet’s soliloquy is a representation of his shadow. The shadow is a representation of the personal unconscious as a whole and usually embodies the compensating values to those held by the conscious personality. Thus, the shadow often represents one's dark side, those aspects of oneself that exist, but which one does not acknowledge or with which one does not identify. As Hamlet’s thoughts on death develop throughout his soliloquy, the more similar they become to his thoughts on life, in that ultimately, he can only see the bad. There is a tricolon of phrases with two syllables that is repeated in the beginning section of the soliloquy which seem to link death to sleep and therefore use sleep as a metaphor for death. The first is, “To die: to sleep; No more” (3.1.60-61). This shows to what extent Hamlet has become numb to life due to how many “slings and arrows” he has suffered. The ease in which death slides to sleep reflects how, in Hamlet’s tired mind, they blend into one. For Hamlet, it is as easy to fall asleep as he imagines ceasing to exist, which is the subject of the first line of the soliloquy. The use of the words “no more” possibly refers to how overwhelmed Hamlet feels

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