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To be or not to be is probably the best-known line from all drama or literature.Certainly, if anyone is asked to quote a line of Shakespeare this is the one that first comes to mind for most people.
This Penlighten article provides the analysis and meaning of 'To Be or Not To Be' in Hamlet.
While writing Hamlet, William Shakespeare is said to have been influenced by the philosophical moral essays of French essayist Michel de Montaigne.
Hamlet's behavior has turned erratic over the sudden turn of events in his family, so much so that he scorns his beloved Ophelia.
He is torn between the responsibilities and the need to get affection from the people he loves, but at the same time, a deep anger seethes inside him to take revenge.
This widely interpreted and scholarly debated soliloquy appears in Hamlet's Act III, scene i (58-90).
Even though the character morally determines to choose life at the end, the whole speech is based on the subject of death.
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, The 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 the 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 undiscover'd 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? and the fear of the uncertainty of death and of possible damnation of suicide.