Horatio and Hamlet dying

Hamlet in Horatio's arms as he is dying

Hamlet, being the protagonist of the play has a great significance to every element of the story. Hamlet is the son the to the late King Hamlet and Queen Gurtrude, who is now married to King Hamlet's brother Claudius.

The death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother to his own uncle put a lot of emotional strain on Hamlet. As the play progresses he begins to act increasingly mad, which is still debatable to whether it was true madness or just an act.

It is aperent that Hamlet is afraid of the idea of death, specifically concerning pergatory and hell. Pergatory being a state after death similar to heaven and hell where a person goes to perge themselves of their past sins so they can then be sent to heaven. In the play Hamlet does consider the act of suicide but is afarid of death so he does not follow though.

"To be, or not to be- that is the question:
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

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 wish'd. 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 despis'd 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 these 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?

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 pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!

The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins rememb'red." (3.1.66)

Hamlet spends the whole play obessing over death and the process of death. During the famous soliloqy above hamlet contemplates death, he questions whether it is better to live with troubles always on your mind or to end your life to get rid of the suffering. He knows that catholicism does not condone taking your own life, that it is great sin and Hamlet is frighted of what will become of him if he does take his life.

Later in the play as Hamlet's character develops he appears to make peace with himself as he states that death is a natural process and it will come to one when it is time. He accepts that his life may end while he is dueling with Laertes, but to assure he does not travel to hell or perguatory after his death he apologizes to Laertes about murdering his father to atone for his sins.

Hamlet is unaware of the plan that King Claudius and Laertes have made to kill him. Laertes has a poisoned fencing sword with a pointed tip, all he needs to do is scratch Hamlet and he is dead. If that fails Claudius has a poisoned cup of wine for Hamlet to drink. The Queen then drinks the cup of wine not knowing it is poisoned and quickly dies after warning Hamlet of the plan, Hamlet is then wounded by the poisonous sword. As he dies he tells Horatio that he is content with dying, that he is leaving a tortured life and entering enternal bliss. He had just before the duel atoned for his sins so he is no longer worrying about being sent to hell or pergatory, he knows that he will go to heaven.

"Hamlet: As th'art a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll ha't.

O good Horatio, what a wounded name

(Things standing thus unknown) shall live behind me If thou didst ever hold me in thy


Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,

To tell my story." (5.2.155)

Fortinbras comes and finds Hamlet dead. Hamlet recieved a proper catholic burial to follow his religion, he also was buried with military honours for killing Claudius because he was not the rightful king following the bloodline. Hamlet was respected still after his death by Fortinbras and Horatio.


Foster, Edward E. "Hamlet Prince in Denmark." Literary Reference Center Plus. Salem Press, Nov. 2010. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

Bennett, Alice. "Anticipated Returns: Purgatory, Exchange And Narrative After Life." Oxford Literary Review 31.1 (2009): 33-48. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

Gill, Roma, OBE, ed. Hamlet. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992. Print.