Hamlet about Suicide

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In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the literary device known as foreshadowing is very present throughout act 1. Many moments in act 1 can become possibly recurring themes throughout the play. For example, in scene 2 Hamlet expresses that he has no desire to continue living. He says, “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,/ Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,/ Or that the Everlasting had not fixed/ His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter!”. Due to his father’s death and his mother’s new marriage, Hamlet wishes he could end his pain through suicide, but he believes that it is wrong in the eyes of God.

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This conflict between ending his suffering and doing the right thing will most likely be further explored as the play goes on. Hamlet’s soliloquy may be foreshadowing a growing desire for suicide. Furthermore, there is foreshadowing suggesting that Hamlet will lose control of himself. As Laertes is parting with his family, he warns his sister Ophelia about Hamlet. He tells her that “Youth to itself rebels, though none else near”. In this line Laertes claims that young people tend to act in rebellious ways even without the influence of others. He believes that Hamlet will not have the control over himself since he is young. He also believes that Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet will be harmful to Ophelia, which could also be foreshadowing her getting hurt because of Hamlet. Laertes tells her that “best safety lies in fear”.

By having a relationship with Hamlet, Ophelia could potentially be compromising her own safety. Moreover, Horatio warns Hamlet not to follow his father’s ghost because it could potentially drive him mad in scene 4. He says to Hamlet, “What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord?/ Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff/ That beetles o’er his base into the sea,/ And there assume some other horrible form/ which might deprive your sovereignty of reason/ And draw you into madness?”. The idea of madness that Horatio brings up has the potential to become a theme of the play as it continues. Hamlet says himself that he will forget everything in his life and solely focus on getting revenge for his father’s murder. Since he had so much love and admiration for his father, his mind is set on completing the task that his father’s ghost asked of him.

Although Horatio warned against the ghost taking a horrible form that would drive Hamlet crazy, the ghost may still drive Hamlet to madness even though it’s still in the form of his father. He seems determined to avenge his father, which is shown by his promise to forget about everything else in his life. This task may cause him to lose control over himself. The ghost of his father also gives him a warning: “But, howsomever thou pursues this act,/ Taint not thy mind”. Hamlet’s father wants Hamlet to keep his mind pure, so he warns him, but this warning can foreshadow that Hamlet will do the opposite. He will be so consumed with getting revenge that he might end up with a tainted mind. He’ll keep his father’s request in mind, but might forget about the warning that came along with it. Based on the various accounts of foreshadowing in act 1, themes of suicide and madness could possibly become more apparent in the upcoming acts of Hamlet.

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Hamlet About Suicide. (2022, Apr 13). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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