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 end them; to die: to sleep -
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished - to die: to sleep -
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
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor's wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin. Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
But that the dread of something after death -
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns - puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
The question is: Should I live or should I die? Is it more noble to face up to life’s hardships or to fight them head on and ultimately put an end to them.
Hamlet uses the phrase ‘to die, to sleep’ twice in this speech. Why do you think he uses the images of death and sleep at the same time? What does this reveal about Hamlet’s attitude to death?
To die. To sleep. To sleep and perhaps dream. Ah there's the problem. In death who knows what kind of dreams we might have after we’ve left this life. That's something we have to consider. All this thinking makes us stretch out our sufferings, making our life feel longer.
Life’s humiliations - abuse from bosses, insults from arrogant men, pangs of unrequited love, a broken law system, rudeness of people in power, good people receiving mistreatment from bad people.
Who would carry burdens, that make them grunt and sweat through an exhausting life unless they knew that life after would be worse.
Hamlet calls life after death 'The undiscovered country' but what do you think he believes exists after death? Is he thinking about killing himself here or could he also be thinking about the consequences of his own actions?
Our conscience makes us fear death and that fear means we don't act fast enough on our instincts.
Hamlet is questioning whether or not fear of death or consequence can make us slow to act. How might he relate to this in terms of his own life? What has he been slow to act upon?
(Text edited for rehearsals by Simon Godwin)