"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. 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 wished. To die, to sleep;
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.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sickled o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia. Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered."
"To Be Or Not To Be"
As A Lamp of Consciousness
An Essay by Silvia "MoonCoach" Pancaro
Hamlet considers the 'big picture' when contemplating Life & Death.
He combines his intellect with his heart when approaching a delicate decision.
William Shakespeare’s genius is clearly demonstrated in his dramatic tragedy, “Hamlet.” True to his clever use of verbiage and sentence construction when desiring to elicit a conscientious reaction from the reader, we find in Hamlet a great piece which utilized the great skill of human ‘thinking’. That piece is the “To Be Or Not To Be” soliloquy. Hamlet, in the midst of great emotional and spiritual turmoil, considers what ease might be brought to his
troubles by contemplating the benefits of Death. Using what amounts to critical thinking, he takes the reader through a number of possible scenarios in considering the possibility of Death over the continuing effects of Life. From his vantage point, there are many issues to consider which may not be apparent at the onset of making a rash decision. It is in this manner of question and answer, and using his intellect that he is able to look at the ‘big picture’ before moving forward in his life.
The opening line of this main soliloquy, in my opinion, establishes the focus of the issue: Life or Death. He further states that this is a question, not merely a statement with clear answers. In this set-up, Hamlet establishes the premise that every decision departs from a point of choice. In this scenario, the choices are to continue existing or to end existence as he experiences it, but not before considering everything that exists in between the two.
Hamlet proceeds to describe the pros and cons relating to Death vs. Life. In doing this, he is taking into consideration what Death would bring. Hamlet presents the troubles of Life as being a most painful adversary. He then equates Death to a dream or sleep state, implying the peace of non-action as opposed to the warring of living. As he continues his intellectual process, Hamlet comes to recognize that there are unanswered questions which
remain and set up a frightening possibility: the unknown. He determines that a ‘con’ to be considered in this matter, is the fear of the unknown. It is at this point that we see how brilliant the character is in subjecting his emotions to The Light of Consciousness. Blazing a Lamp upon the question itself of ‘to be or not to be,’ Hamlet has been able
to consider all the possibilities, as opposed to simply reacting from an emotionally wounded perspective.
In conclusion, William Shakespeare’s brilliant character of Hamlet inspires the reader to consider the overall picture in any given situation, particularly matters of great importance. One might say that Hamlet has given us a fine example of utilizing our conscious mind in ways that assist us through life, by pairing it with the wonderful tool of ‘questioning’ every situation until we reach a conclusion that is acceptable to both mind and heart.
Copyright Silvia Pancaro.