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Word Count: 551
This page looks at Hamlets soliloquy To be or not to be Source Unknown The major question in To be or not to be cannot be suicide If it were as many have noted it would be dramatically irrelevant Hamlet is no longer sunk in the depths of melancholy as he was in his first soliloquy He has been roused to action and has just discovered how to test the Ghosts words When we last saw him only five minutes before he was anticipating the nights performance and in only a few moments we shall see him eagerly instructing the players and excitedly telling Horatio of his plan To have him enter at this point debating whether or not to kill himself would indeed be wholly inconsistent with both the character and the movement of the plot The metaphors all suggest that Hamlets choice is between suffering the ills of this world and taking resolute action against them not between enduring evil and evading it A further objection to the suicide theory one that may be even more significant in its implications is the form of the question Hamlet puts to himself He states his dilemma as to be or not to be- not as to live or not to live the issue as he sees it is not between mere temporal existence and non-existence but between being and non-being In other words he is struggling with a metaphysical issue not the narrow personal question of whether he an individual man should kill himself but the wider philosophical question of mans essence Hamlet is facing the moral question that has too long been thought irrelevant to the play whether or not he should effect private revenge To be- what To be a man in the full metaphysical sense of being as it was understood by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle Being is what
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