Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Be Or Not To Be

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 trouble and by opposing end to them?
To die, to sleep, no more
and by a sleep to say we end the heartaches 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?
Aye, 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 gives calamity of so long life,
for who would bare the whips and scorns of time?
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
the pangs of depriced love, the law's delay and the spurns,
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his quietous make with a bare bodkin?
Who would fardles bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovered country from whose no bourn traveller returns
puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than to fly to others that we know not off.
Thus concious does make cowards of us all,
and thus the native hue of resolution is sickled over with a pale cast of
thought and enterprises of great pith and moment,
with this regards their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.

This is actually from my memory, believe it or not, I didn't look it up, that's why the punctuation and the verses are probably a bit off. But I can guarantee that this is the real deal...ish.
Now we're going to discuss what this really means. What is he really saying here?

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark!
To be alive, or to be dead, that is the question.
Whether it's better to sit silently, suffering, just looking at your life's fortune or lack of such,
or to take the problems by their horns and stop them, or stop oneself?
Is dying sleeping?
And if dying is sleeping, do we then end the heartaches and the thousand memories we've stored from a long life?
Is dying sleeping? Sleeping, maybe even dreaming?
Now, there's the real question, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have left behind our mortal bodies?
Stop, rest. Who would bear the weight of eternity as a mere mortal?
The leaders are wrong, and the pride in their insults are beyond comprehension.
We experience a sudden desire for priceless love, and we are rejected with disdain.
We're patiently watching the unworthy rise to glory, as they would silently kill us with a small knife?
Who could manage to bear such a heavy burden? To grunt and sweat tied down in a tiering life with the constant fear of that undefined afterlife. The undiscovered realm from which there's no return intrigues our curiosity, and  makes us endure our destiny rather than stop believing.
This hive consciousness turns us all into cowards.
And even though we are all for quick resolutions, they are mostly cut over with an even better resolution, one whose core is importance personified.
And with all this in mind their roads takes a new turn and they lose sight of eternity.

Here I have loosely translated it into a bit more contemporary English, and I might be way off, but it would have to be in the ballpark.

He's pondering upon life and death, and where do we go when our earthly life is over, is there really an afterlife? He has been promised a heaven, but is it really there? Hamlet might very well have been a humanist which, regarding the time it was written, is a bit odd, and rather revolutionary. And I don't think Hamlet is completely sure there even is a God. He has seen his fathers ghost, but I don't think he believes it to be an act of divine intervention, or of good, if you like. He might very well be aware of his own fading sanity.
I also think he's considering ending his own life due to all the horrible things he has experienced lately. His father is dead. His uncle has ascended the throne in Hamlets place. The uncle manage to do so by marrying his mother, Gertrude. And he, Hamlet, has an unhealthy relationship with his mother, feeling that his uncle takes his place in more than one way. The only thing keeping him on the correct side of death and life is Ophelia. She can hold all of his good deeds in her heart. And she does. Then she slowly enters the world of insanity, as Hamlet slowly remove himself from her. He does so unintentionally as he's consumed by the thought of revenge upon his uncle. But I dealt with the story in my Hamlet entry. This is the famous soliloquy, a collection of words I'll probably try to understand for years to come yet...
But I feel I am closer now than I have ever been.

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