It should be emphasized that almost all the literary works of Shakespeare do not lose their relevance and reflect the core human concerns that are topical for the contemporaneity. They raise important issues and touch upon the feelings that remain unchanged for centuries. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the famous excerpt from “Hamlet”, which begins with the words “To be or not to be: that is the question” and to dwell upon the way readers can relate to its message.
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The core of the Excerpt
The passage from Act III scene I reveals the main problem faced by the protagonist of the book – it is the difficulty of making a choice. After he has learned what had happened to his father, Hamlet was thinking about what to do next (Shakespeare, 1843). This passage epitomizes the mental and psychological struggles a person experiences when he or she needs to commit a difficult moral choice. He could not choose between life and death, power or powerlessness, good and evil. These basic, however, indeed complex questions Hamlet was trying to answer in the same way the contemporary people would do when they face an ethical problem of moral choice.
In addition, this passage of the tragedy reveals that Hamlet represents an eternal character of world literature and envisions an ordinary person who thinks through the most sensitive issues that concern and are important for almost everyone at present. The majority of people have to make ethical or unethical decisions when they need to determine what would be the proper or an adequate way in a complex situation and whether it is better to choose your own comfort or the reverse. It has always been difficult for many people to settle whether to act in accordance with their conscience or to choose the easiest way by neglecting others (Frye, 2013). Morality in difficult situations is not always the key factor in decision-making; however, the internal struggle in humans is permanent. Appropriately, the excerpt from “Hamlet” fully reveals the moral anguish, which is also characteristic of contemporary people.
The passage raises the question of life and death, which almost every individual asks him or herself in the course of life. The part of the monolog below displays the eternal question that no one has been able to answer, and it will be raised years and decades further:
“But that the dread of something after death, –
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, – puzzles the will,
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And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? (Shakespear, 1843, p. 51)”
Despite the fact that the plot of this tragedy derives from the social system of England at that time, the value of this monolog is beyond the scope of time, country, nationality, or historical epoch (Frye, 2013). The issues raised by the main character are characteristic of all times and people. It can be stated that the way Hamlet had to make his choice through deep ethical dilemmas, in the same manner, a contemporary person has to make decisions every day.
It can be concluded that the excerpt from “Hamlet” does not lose its relevance due to the fundamental problems raised by it. The precise description of feelings and deep concerns of the main hero is quite applicable to the contemporary reader due to the fact that the human essence has remained almost the same. Throughout centuries, people have been questioning the basic notions to cognize themselves and, most probably, it would be the same for the future generations as well.
Frye, R. M. (2013). Shakespeare: The art of the dramatist. Boston, MA: Routledge.
Shakespeare, W. (1843). Hamlet. Leipzig, Germany: Tauchnitz.