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The Effect of Religion on Hamlet's Decisions

  • Date Submitted: 03/30/2010 02:49 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.9 
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The Effect of Religion on Hamlet’s Decisions
For as long as history has been recorded, most humans have turned toward religion to guide them through everyday life.   Religion often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.   Most religious people also believe in a life after death in which one’s actions during their time on earth determine whether they are privileged in their afterlife and go to Heaven or punished and go to Hell.   Many also believe that those who are not given a chance to repent their sins at the time of their death go to a place called Purgatory until their wrongs are atoned for.   In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, this is where King Hamlet’s spirit goes in the form of a ghost. He is forced to roam the earth:
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
And for the day confined to fast in fires
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. (Ham. 1.5.15-8)
When Prince Hamlet learns that his uncle Claudius killed his father, he becomes thirsty with revenge.   Several of the major decisions Prince Hamlet makes on his quest to avenge his suffering father are influenced by the ideals of religion, including his contemplations of suicide, his inaction in killing his uncle when he has the chance, and his ultimate action in killing the King.
The eponymous hero has several soliloquies throughout the play.   In his first soliloquy Hamlet mourns the death of his father although it has been almost two months   since he died.   Hamlet does not yet know that his father was murdered by Claudius, his uncle, whom he despises even prior to discovering the truth about his father’s death.   Claudius has taken the crown of Denmark, leaving Hamlet with nothing.   Hamlet is so full of melancholy and sorrow that he sees no purpose in continuing to live:
How {weary,} stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on ’t, ah fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things...

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