Hamlet says, “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 them”. These lines are the opening to one of Hamlet’s soliloquies.
In fact, these lines are possibly the most famous lines in English literature, but do people know what Hamlet meant by these lines. Hamlet is more than just contemplating suicide, he is also thinking about death and how to combat his pain. As he spoke those lines, he believes suicide is a way to get out of his pain.
In the opening line of Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be or not to be” Hamlet is contemplating suicide.
He is talking to himself about if it is better to go through these trouble times alone or to take his life in his own hands and end the suffering in his life by killing himself. Today, most people think suicide is getting out the easy way, but it seems like Hamlet wants to fight this thought. “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”. Hamlet is talking about which one is more noble, to let the slings and arrows kill him or to fight against all of his troubles and oppose them.
To live or to die, this is the question Hamlet has been wondering. Before Hamlet answers this, he needs to ask more questions to himself. “To die: to sleep; Nor more; and by a sleep to say we end”. Hamlet is now comparing death to sleep.
Hamlet is just making a comparison on how if you die then all you are doing is sleeping. Then Hamlet goes on to say, “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”. Hamlet now remembers when you sleep you dream, and starts to wonder if dieing is that bad. Hamlet begins to wonder what dreams will come when he’s dead and gets rid of his mortal body.
Hamlet says, “Must give us pause: there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life”. Out loud, Hamlet is saying he needs to take time to make this important decision. With taking the time to make this decision Hamlet realizes that taking the time makes the tragedies of life seem so much longer. Then Hamlet says, “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time”.
Hamlet is thinking, who can take a lot of time in making this decision when the decision is so important and weighs so heavy on his heart.
Hamlet goes on to say, “The undiscover’d country from whose bourn No reveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of?” Hamlet is not sure of what will come during the afterlife, which is the undiscover’d country. He wants to know if the afterlife is going to be more painful or not compared to his life right now. Hamlet does not want to bear the pain he has right now in the afterlife.
These lines really make Hamlet think about committing suicide. It is because of these lines he does not commit suicide because he is not sure of what will come.Close to the end of Hamlet’s soliloquy, Hamlet says, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”. Hamlet is talking about cowardice.
Hamlet is saying the sense of what is right versus what is wrong, makes men cowards. If we knew it was right, then we would do it. However, since we do not know if it is right or wrong we think about it and weigh the consequences. Hamlet goes on to say, “And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”.
By this, Hamlet means that the tone of the solution, meaning suicide, is by far worse than what he first thought. At the end of the soliloquy Hamlet says, “And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action”. Hamlet is saying that when men come to this point, realizing that suicide is worse than ever thought, then they turn away and try to find another way to combat their pain.