To Be or Not to Be Meaning: A Literary Analysis of Hamlet

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Last Updated: 26-Jun-23
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Set in Denmark, the play exaggerates the revenge of Hamlet which is called upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet`s father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother in order to seize the throne, also doing immoral things like marrying his deceased brother`s wife. Hamlet is Shakespeare`s longest play, and is considered among the most powerful and influential works.

What made this play so influential and to gain its popularity is the interesting way Shakespeare uses his characters, and mostly Hamlet, to give an example on the workings of the human mind. Hamlet is a very complex character that deals with a lot of philosophical issues in the play. When "to be or not to be" (Soliloquy 1, Act 3, Scene 1) is taken, it can be seen that Hamlet is directly addresses to a more of a fundamental question on the part of humanity, asking What is mortality: is it really better to live a life full of struggle or is it even better to commit suicide. What Shakespeare really wanted to present here is this human condition of always looking for better answers, even though when there are none. Hamlet is a character that is mainly obsessed with grief, anger, and revenge, and that part of his human condition is pretty much appalling. Taking the way of troubles than just trying to end everything, he steps against his and Denmark`s way of humanity understanding: