Saturday, November 12, 2016

Christian faith and afterlife

In Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy, he says that he and all humans would not be reluctant to kill themselves if they knew what the afterlife consisted of. The main fear is the dread of the afterlife, but it also could have Christian implications of fear. Suicide is a terrible sin in the Christian faith, and the afterlife is vague and not guaranteed. The Christian afterlife consists of Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, but does not ensure that you will be happy after your death. This is especially the case for someone who commits suicide, as we saw in Dante's Inferno with the Wood of Suicides. Hamlet states that all people who fear the afterlife, including himself, are cowards for not killing themselves. Hamlet's view is very morbid because he hates his life on earth and would rather be dead, though this could be a part of his madness act.

3 comments:

Rickeia Coleman said...

I also wonder if Hamlet fears that everything in life will get better if he just hangs on a little longer instead of killing himself. As this point I think it's safe to say that Hamelt is crazy and he's just talking to see if he can somehow make sense of the world even though it seems like it is to no avail. Hamlet never once mentions God or sin or anything like that so I think it's safe to assume that he doesn't care much about religion and the afterlife in that sense. However, those around him may have these religious views which were passed onto him so even though he doesn't necessarily say anything much about religion it could still impact his way of viewing life and death. Hamlet as a character is hard to figure out since we the audience don't even know what is real or not in terms of his actions.

Dylan Bryan said...

It is said that Hamlet's thoughts about afterlife and suicide do not pertain much to religion, especially because Shakespeare was writing in Elizabethan England, which had split from the Catholic Church for the Anglican church. However, even without strong religion, there is still fear of the afterlife. Hamlet says people do not kill themselves out of fear of the unknown of what comes after death. Hamlet ultimately decides not to kill himself, not only out of fear of the unknown, but also because he has vowed to avenge his father's death. Hamlet initially calls himself a coward for not having killed Claudius yet. He also says everyone is a coward for not killing themselves due to fear of the unknown. Hamlet thus marks himself as a coward in two respects. I agree with Rickeia that it is clear to see that Hamlet is not completely in his right mind and is either mad or clinically depressed.

Luke Jeanfreau said...

I think it's really cool that Hamlet manages to remain secular in this time period. A lot of the literature at the time was heavily based around Christianity, and it is really interesting to see a perspective of death from a secular stance.