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Death and Afterlife: Hamlet

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katy maldonado

on 13 January 2015

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Transcript of Death and Afterlife: Hamlet

Death of Honesty
: Within his play
, Shakespeare demonstrates how deception can lead to the death of one's honesty, and he does this through such characters like Claudius, Polonius, and Laertes.
Example 1: Claudius

Claudius was one of the main individuals who allowed his honesty to die, and this is seen when he lies to the kingdom and states "Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom to be contracted in one brow of woe, yet so far hath discretion fought with nature That we with wisest sorrow think on him Together with remembrance of ourselves" (Hamlet 1.2).

Example 2: Polonius

Polonius was also one who unfortunately allowed his actions to kill his honesty, and this is seen when Polonius states "Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris, And how, and who, what means, and where they keep, what company, at what expense; and finding By this encompassment and drift of question That they do know my son, come you more nearer Than your particular demands will touch it. Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him, As thus, "I know his father and his friends, And in part him. Do you mark this, Reynaldo?" (Hamlet 2.1)

Example 3: Laertes

In the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, Laertes allowed his honesty to vanish away, and this is seen when he states "To cut his throat i' the church....And for that purpose I'll anoint my sword. I bought an unction of a mountebank So mortal that, but dip a knife in it, where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare, Collected from all simples that have virtue Under the moon, can save the thing from death..." (Hamlet 4.7).

Death of trust
Thesis:In his play
, Shakespeare uses the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to prove that the act of betrayal will eventually provoke the trust that people have for you to die away.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were the two who allowed betrayal to kill the trust Hamlet had for them, and this is seen when Hamlet states "you would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass, and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak" (Hamlet 3.2)

Death of Morality
Thesis :
In Shakespeare’s famous play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, the death of Morality is witnessed in each of the characters as it changes their personalities and their outlook on life.

As the first clown is digging Ophelia's burial, he tells the second clown, "Is she to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks her own salvation?"
The second clown responds telling him, "I tell thee she is: and refore make her grave straight the crowner hath sat on her, she finds it Christian burial.
Fustrated with Hamlet, Claudius asks Hamlet to tell him the location of Polonius' body but Hamlet simply says, "At supper....not where he eats but where he is being eaten."
Death of Sanity
The characters who grew mad over the course of the play, Hamlet and Ophelia can have their madness traced back to death of a family member and Shakespeare uses the deaths of Old Hamlet and Polonius the plunge both Hamlet and Ophelia into madness.
Example A, Ophelia
Act 4-5
Shortly after Ophelia, leaves Cladius tells Gertrude how Ophelias sadness has driven her mad telling Gertrude, "Poor Ophelia divided herself and her fair judgement, without the which we are pictures, or merely beasts."
Example B, Hamlet
Act 1-5
After discovering that his father was murdered by his uncle, Hamlet devises a plant where he will pretend to be mad, "How or soe're i bear myself, as perchance hereafter shall i meet to put antic disposition on."
Example A, The Clowns
Example B, Hamlet
Act 4-5
Figurative Death
Shakespeare uses figurative death to emphasize how physical death can lead to an even more destructive decay: that of our morals, sanity, and honesty.
Literal Death
Thesis: Shakespeare uses literal death to depict the theme of cyclical loops and how futile and nonsensical our attempts at avoiding death truly are because ultimately we all end up in the same decaying form.
1. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there is an idea that revolves around the question of what happens after death, whether or not everybody, peasants and royalty end up as equals; lifeless bodies that become worm food. Hamlet contemplates this concept when he bumps into the gravedigger and finds Yorick’s skull and says “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy…Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?...”

Heaven and Hell
2. After being informed of Polonius’s murder and questioning Hamlet of where he put the body, Hamlet wittingly assert that he is at supper but “Not where he eats, but where he is eaten…Your worm is your only emperor for diet…your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end.”
2. After speaking to the gravedigger and contemplating death and afterlife in the face of Yorick’s skull, Hamlet exasperatedly states, “To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of alexander till’ a find it stopping a bunghole?” Act 5, Scene 1, Page 1128
2. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there are different types of deaths, including the suicide to show the idea that some may not go through with this act because they are sane and scared of what happens after death, and others are not mentally well to care what happens to them in the afterlife. Hamlet contemplates this concept and the fear of uncertainty when the king and Polonius are spying on him and says “To die,—to sleep,—
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die,—to sleep;—
To sleep: perchance to dream…And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought; And enterprises of great pith and moment, With this regard, their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action.”

Thesis: Shakespeare uses this category of Heaven and Hell in the play to intensify the theme of death and the afterlife, and to represent the death of faith and growth of religious respect.
Thesis: Shakespeare uses this category of Worm food in the play to intensify the theme of death and the afterlife, and to represent the death of decay and equality in the afterlife.
1. When Polonius, Gertrude, and Claudius are about to spy on Hamlet’s reaction toward Ophelia, Hamlet gives his most famous soliloquy and contemplate suicide and the afterlife. He begins by saying “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?”

Thesis: Shakespeare uses the theme of the afterlife to answer the long debated question of what truly happens once we die. The answer to this question is epitomized in Hamlet’s inner conflict and journey in which he begins as all other human beings: scared of death and its possible future and ultimately ends in a passive, peaceful, and accepting way in which he sees death as a mere repetitive loop with no significance on any one type of being, whether good or bad, everyone is involved in the same repetitive cycle.

1. After meeting with the night guards, Hamlet finally comes face to face with the ghost and follows him into the forest where the ghost reveals that he is “thy father's spirit, Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confined to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away…” (Act 1, scene 5, page 28)
The concept of limbo is used to further emphasize the theme of uncertainty and how life is simply a cyclical loop that everybody has to go through, regardless of one’s hierarchal rule.
1. After Claudius urges his newfound kingdom to forget about their previous king and instead be happy and support his and Gertrude’s new kingdom and marriage, Hamlet frustrated and disgusted contemplates his life and wishes that “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt. Thaw and resolve itself into dew…how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world! (Act 1, Scene 2, Page 14)
Thesis: Shakespeare uses the concept of suicide to demonstrate humanity’s weakness and blind control as we may think that we have control over our lives by deciding not to commit suicide but in reality we decide to live an insufferable life because we are dominated by uncertainty and fear. However, the concept of suicide can be also viewed as an escape method because it may give one answers to problems but it also relieve one of responsibility and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
1. Shortly after Hamlet stabs Claudius with the envenomed sword and forces him to drink the poisoned wine, Laertes asks for Hamlets forgiveness. “He is justly served. It is a poison tempered by himself. Change forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet. Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee, nor thine on me” (act 5, scene 2)
Thesis: Shakespeare uses the action of murder to depict a cyclical loop of rage and revenge that is similar to the cycle of our decaying bodies becoming worm food. However, Shakespeare may also have used murder to depict the idea of how avoiding death is a futile undergoing as death may come from simple revenge and rage
Hamlet: Death And Afterlife
In Hamlet, Shakespeare often alludes to Heaven and Hell as both a form of literal death and the afterlife to show Hamlet’s despair or mental state. For example, Hamlet says, “. . . Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words And fell a-cursing like a very drab, . . .” The purpose of this line is to show us the Hamlet desires revenge, but will not yet take it because he does not want Claudius to have a chance to repent his sins, which can connect to the theme of death of faith, but how?
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