“To be or not to be.” – Life’s biggest and most contentious question of all. No one will ever be able to answer this question unless they have tried “not to be.” Whether you’re happy or unhappy in life coming across this question is unavoidable, especially if you have ever had the pleasure of reading Shakespeare’s book, Hamlet. “To be or not to be” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy by the protagonist of the play. It’s basically a question about whether to live or not.
The use of rhetorical questions in this speech is worth noticing. The primary function of these questions is to engage the reader’s interest and by doing that we will be involved in forming our own opinion about the situation.
As far as Hamlet is concerned he tries to develop his argument in order to make the most rational decision. Knowing that any action he takes will cause his death he asks himself “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[…]” Hamlet has reached a point where he thinks that human beings are born to suffer. He ponders whether it’s nobler to passively endure the pain or actively end all the suffering, either by suicide or as retribution for killing the king. The fact that he doesn’t commit suicide doesn’t mean he has chosen to live. By choosing revenge he still takes death into consideration.
Regarding the quote above Hamlet uses a metaphor comparing the slings and arrows to the negativity of life. Additionally, he compares death to a deep sleep which seems to be acceptable. But at this point he realizes all the uncertainties about death. He stops for a moment and speculates about what might come in such a deep sleep. “Ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come[…]” Hamlet fears the possibility of dreaming after death. He never knows if the afterlife will get worse than the present situation.
Hamlet weighs all...