Shakespeare's Hamlet 8 To Be or Not to Be

What does Hamlet's "to be, or not to be..." speech reveal about his character? Besides the fact that he's super comfortable talking to himself, of course. 

British LiteratureShakespeare
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureShakespeare

Transcript

00:25

he's brought in a church that believes that if you

00:28

commit suicide you go to hell So you're saying to

00:31

be or not to be if if i exist that

00:34

i have to deal with all this struggle right it's

00:36

like life is nothing but this endless log of pain

00:40

And if i kill myself and just free myself in

00:42

the pain well then i go to hell and burn

00:44

eternally for all forever right So he's trying to figure

00:47

out what he's going to do with himself and actually

00:50

offering like a very touching in some ways explanation of

00:54

of how someone at the time might have contemplated suicide

00:56

and what would have kept them from suicide But at

01:00

the same time claudius and polonius are actually eavesdropping on

01:03

him Remember they're trying to figure out what is going

01:05

on with hamlet Claudius for obvious reasons is really anxious

01:09

about hamlet because he's the son of the guy he

01:11

just killed And wants to make sure that he's kind

01:13

of under control And polonius is just like a stodgy

01:16

old jerk who wants to control everything kind of be

01:20

big man on campus So right so they're both spying

01:23

on him So there has been some critical interpretations that

01:26

believe that the whole to be or not to be

01:27

speech is actually performing right it's not a genuine soliloquy

01:32

in which he's actually talking himself maybe it's a monologue

01:35

in which he's actually putting on a show to kind

01:38

of make claudius and polonius think that he is suicidal

01:41

when in fact he's not because it definitely does direct

01:44

attention away from his desire to get revenge and more

01:48

towards his figure out whether it's like worthwhile to exist

01:51

Right so less of the anger more of the angst

01:58

What does hamlet's to be or not to be Speech 00:02:00.697 --> [endTime] reveal about his character