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Hamlet's Paradox Of Man

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Shakespeare was a man ahead of his time. He was a man who had an ability to

portray the inner workings of humanity. Throughout his masterful works he was able to

peer into the human psyche and capture emotions like no other writer has been able to do.

He filled every one of his plays, most notably Hamlet, with eternal truths concerning

human emotions. Shakespeare develops the paradox of man and contradictions of

humanity with imagery, ironic siloques, and philosophical rants by Hamlet and Claudius.

No one has ever returned from the dead. Nobody knows exactly what life after

death is like. This is the thesis of Hamlet's first paradox. The saying that "grass is always

greener on the other side of the fence" does not hold true when dealing with human life.

Life is a struggling, so why do we endure it? Hamlet reminds us that " . . . in that sleep of

death what dreams may come,/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,/ Must give us

pause" (III.i.67-69). The reason that people do not give up their lives is because they do

not know what it is to become of them after they die. Man is trapped in life by the enigma

of death---the unknowns. He generally wishes to give his life up for something better; he

cannot because there is no knowing whether death is a better alternative or not. Even

though a better life is promised to us after death, one cannot get ot that place when taking

one's own life.

Shakespeare notes that the Scriptures disapprove of suicide. This is another reason

that men do not take their live. Hamlet wishes, "that the Everlasting that had not fixed/

His cannon 'gainst self-slaughter" (I.ii.131-132) after finding out that his father was killed

by his uncle. This passage strikes less loudly against the soul of humanity now than it did

when Hamlet was written. Poepl were incredibly religious in Shakespeare's time, probably

more so than today. Fewer people in today's society probably believe as strongly that

suicide is a sin. However, one can still see the paradox of the situation. Religfion is a

choice, one can believe it or not. By taking hold of it, Hamlet is disallowed something that

he seeks, his death. The irony lies in the acceptance of a religion that disallows the things

that are coveted by Hamlet. He is a very devout Christian by choice. One can see

throughout his speeches. However, he wishes to forsake one of Christianity's tenets

against suicide, and yet he remains dedicated to the faith. He accepts something that he

disagrees with, that withholds something that he covets. So many people would abandon

the faith to get what they want. This shows the contradiction and conviction of Hamlet's


It should be noted that not everyone wishes to move on to a better place. Most of

these peopleare very materialistic. Shakespeare makes a great point in Hamlet that in the

end everyone is going to die. Hamlet reveres death as the great equalizer, " . . . fat king

and lean beggar is bur variable service---two dishes but to one table" (IV.iii.23-24). The

paradoxis that though a man may strive to break away from the pack, in the end no

concessions are given to him. Even the most revered man will become just like the rest of

the dead, dust on the ground. Hamlet reflects after speaking to a gravedigger that

"Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,/Might stop a hole to keep the wind away"




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