Death in Hamlet
The story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is William Shakespeare’s tragedy in five acts. It is not only one of his most famous plays, but one of the most famous plays in the world drama. It was written in 1600-1601 and is the longest one among the Shakespeare’s plays. Hamlet is a typical example of the complexity related to the comprehension of the great works of art of earlier times. These works would not be great if we do not understand the system of thoughts and feelings of the characters. They would not be so impressive if the human content of the images was not available to people of other ages. On the other hand, to understand the works of Shakespeare is fully possible only if you know the history, culture, religion, philosophy, way of life and the theater of his time.
Death hovers over the tragedy from the start, when a ghost of killed King appeared. Hamlet meditates about the death in his monologue “To be, or not to be.” The prince discoursed about the death deciding to kill the king or wait for hours when he would make something sinful. The reality of death presented before Hamlet, the land that held the rotten corpses. First Gravedigger famously threw skull out of the ground in which he dug a grave for Ophelia. Among them, there was the royal jester Yorick’s skull. Hamlet picked up a skull and melancholy said, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a man infinitely witty, wonderfully; he carried me on his back, and now … Where are your jokes? Where is your singing?” Hamlet struck the impermanence of all things. Even human greatness would escape this fate; Alexander the Great was the same form in the ground and he also smelled bad.
The two concepts of the death and two points of view on it are faced in the tragedy. The first is that tradition and religion states that the human soul after death still exist and is real. The second image of death was the bones that remained on the person. Hamlet said this with irony, “Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander turned to the dust, the dust is earth, of earth make the clay, and why this clay, which he turned, cannot plug a beer keg?” Two representations of death were not just religious and real, but also contradictory. In one case it was of the human soul, in another it was of his body. However, an alien from another world described himself in the not best way. After poisoning, abominable scabbed stuck his body. Hence, in the next world comes earthly scab.
The scene at the cemetery was one of the highest achievements ofShakespeare’s drama. He said to the audience of this terrible event, “The final being of everyone!” The jokes were heard from the first gravedigger. He talked about suicide, proving the guilt of the drowned first, then about her innocence. The game sophistry was common for the Shakespearean clowns by which everything could prove. First gravedigger knew what world he lived in. His brother in the profession noted that if the deceased was not a noble lady, it would have been buried according to Christian rites. The first gravedigger marked, “That’s just it is, and it’s a pity that the noble people have more power to burn and hang than their fellow Christians in this world”. On the Hamlet’s question, how long a person would lie in the grave until it rots, the cemetery wit replied, “Yes, well, if it does not rot before death because now a lot of rotten corpses and funerals are not stand, so he will hold out for eight years or even nine years tanner, you stretch that nine.” The humor of the first gravedigger was replaced by the philosophical irony of Prince that all is vanity. Hamlet looked at the skull and said, “Why would not he be the skull of any lawyer?” Another skull replied, “It may be that at one time this was a big fellow by the buyer of land, with any mortgage obligations, bills of sale, double guarantees and penalties, it led to his noggin landowning packed dirt ground?” Even the great victory and the worldwide fame of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar ended the same way.
So far it was about death in general. Yorick’s skull brought several deaths to Hamlet. He knew and loved this jester. However, this death was abstract for the Prince. In the cemetery there was the funeral procession and Hamlet learnt that his beloved was buried.
The death of Hamlet’s father plunged him into the mourning. Now he was again shaken to the core. Hamlet had only the passionate speeches. It helped him to pour out his heart. Even now, after that how much he had sorrows, the hero suffered because of the death of Ophelia.
There is no doubt that it was the great grief and shock for Hamlet. In his passionate speech was something unnatural and not peculiar to his other, even the best speeches. It seemed that Hamlet had adopted the rhetorical bombast of Laertes. Hyperbola in the Hamlet’s speech was too conspicuous to be true as it was in other strong speeches of the hero. However, in life there were profound shocks causing a flow of the meaningless words.
The passionate speech to his beloved could be explained, but the strange oration to Laertes was incomprehensible, “Tell me, sir, why do you treat me so? I have always loved you.” From the point of view of ordinary logic, words of Hamlet were absurd. He killed father’s Laertes.
However, after the scene in the cemetery Hamlet talked to Horatio, so that there could be no doubt in his right mind. Prince told how he saved from the trap into which he drove by King Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Horatio would like to know how he Hamlet referred to the inevitable destruction of the two former friends at the university. Hamlet did not regret them at all as he was not sorry and full about Polonius’ death. He said with complete indifference of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Hamlet was a man of the feudal world, called by the code of honor to revenge for the death of his father. Hamlet, striving for integrity, felt the pain split. Hamlet, rebelling against the world felt the pain of the prison shackling on him. All this bears endless grief, anguish and doubt.
It would be better to end the sufferings and to die, but Hamlet rejected the idea of suicide. On the other hand, the thought about death did not disappear for keeps. After the revenge accomplished, the hero died, burden placed him into the land, which he could not neither carry nor reset.
Every character of the story acts as a fate which each has prepared for himself. Heroes die tragically and ironically. Laertes died from the sword which he smeared with poison, so that under the guise of fair and safe fight to kill Hamlet. King perished of the same sword and from the poison, prepared by him in the case Laertes cannot inflict a fatal blow to Hamlet. Queen Gertrude drank the poison by a mistake. She trusted the king, doing the evil in secret, but was revealed by Hamlet. Fortinbras, refusing to avenge the death of his father, bequeathed the crown to Hamlet.
Hamlet had philosophical turn of mind. On the particular case, he always went to the general laws of the universe. He considered the family drama, murder of his father, as a portrait of a world in which the evil flourished. Frivolity mother who so quickly forgot his father and married to Claudia is led to a generalization, “O woman, your name is treachery.” View of the skull of Yorick led him to thoughts of earthly frailty. Shakespeare ensured with the special composite tools the fact that Hamlet remained a mystery to the audience and researchers forever.