Study Guide

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country The Undiscovered Country

The Undiscovered Country

Only Star Trek would depict a fearsome alien race as a bunch of Shakespeare lovers. Seriously, these guys aren't just weekend warriors—they have juggalo-level devotion to the Bard.

To Trek, or Not to Trek

In fact, the title of the film—The Undiscovered Country—is straight out of Shakespeare. To be specific, it comes from Hamlet's famous to be, or not to be soliloquy. Buckle in:

HAMLET
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised 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?

To translate the Shakespeare jargon, Hamlet is saying that our fear of the "undiscovered country" of the afterlife prevents us from ending our own lives. Pretty heavy stuff.

The film frames the phrase differently. Instead of using it to describe death, Gorkon uses it to refer to the future. While that may seem like a big disparity, both interpretations of the phrase connect unknowability with fear. Star Trek might be talking about the future, and Hamlet might be talking about death, but the gist is pretty much the same. For better or worse, we're afraid of the undiscovered country.

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