Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be (Links to an external site.)” Soliloquy: Generally, Hamlet’s great soliloquy is read as a reflection on the implications of choosing either life or death (“self-slaughter”). However, in the sense of the Renaissance Revenge Tragedy (Links to an external site.) and considering the political implications of murder of a king by the young prince whose “will is not his own” (I.3.20), I have found two other possible readings stemming from the phrase “to be, or not to be” (III.1.56). If Hamlet considers revenge his is fate, the “to be” may mean to become the revenger or to fulfill his destiny (his belief in destiny sways back and forth throughout the play). Likewise, a young sovereign ascending to the throne was often thought to be spiritually reborn. To depose Claudius is to assume his rightful seat on the throne with all the “suits and trappings” of the office and the consequences of his actions. Perhaps, to “look as a friend on Denmark” may mean to right the wrong and “be[come]” a king. No doubt, Hamlet’s monologue is a lamentable inner-conflict between who he is and what he must become. Use as resources Hamlet (starts around pg. 14), (Links to an external site.)Shakespeare’s Words Database (Links to an external site.) and O.E.D. (Links to an external site.)
I invite you to consider, through the evidence in the passage and else where in the text, how either becoming a revenger or becoming a king could be a theme along side suicide. 500-600 word response with at least three pieces of textual evidence to support your position required for E.C. points (in-text citations required). Consider the four other soliloquies spoken by Hamlet as well is his role in relations to other characters and the plot
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