What Is The Fear Of Death In Hamlet

Decent Essays
In Hamlet, Hamlet grapples with the decision to commit suicide after returning home to find his father dead, his mother remarried, and his uncle on the throne; however, it is essentially his fear of what death may bring that prevents him from taking action. Do we begin living another life? Will that life be better or worse than the one we previously led? Filled with uncertainty, these questions produce distress for Hamlet because answering them is impossible. Hamlet’s struggle with the challenge of answering such questions is best portrayed when he laments, “To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause. There’s the respect / That makes calamity of so long life” (3.1.66-70). Within Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, the text signifies death’s alarming quality: it is unpredictable, and for this reason we fear it. By emphasizing the similarities between the unpredictable nature of dreaming and of death, Hamlet creates a metaphor in order to depict the fear that stems from such uncertainty. Just as dreaming may consist of a pleasant fantasy or a horrible nightmare, death has the potential to condemn one to Heaven or Hell. Strictly speaking, we are unable to determine the nature of our dreams, just as we are unable to conclude the aftermath of death. The realization that death is like a final sleep, and therefore an opportunity to dream, ultimately results in
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