A Subtlety of Voicing

Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech is not an expression of his own pain, but rather a reflection of Shakespeare’s pain. As a creator, it is only natural that Shakespeare expresses his emotions through the form of writing. However, “To be or not to be” is Shakespeare’s view on life and not Hamlet’s. Throughout the whole soliloquy, Hamlet never mentions his own hardships and instead bleeds a philosophical plea that has a very personalized message. Not that it would be inappropriate for Hamlet to have these thoughts, but the way he delivers the words gives off the vibe that the voicing is not his own. For example, when Hamlet says “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time”, we should expect that if it were meant that Hamlet were expressing himself, he would say something along the lines of “For why do I bear the whips and scorn of time”. The difference is very subtle, but it is important to take note of this and understand that maybe Shakespeare just wanted a chance for people to step into his life and understand what his misery is like. Shakespeare expressing emotions through his characters is no surprise by any stretch, but when he bypasses his characters and explains his emotion through his own voicing, it provides a whole new outlook on this soliloquy. It’s not as much about Hamlet’s suffering, but Shakespeare’s. Throughout the rest of the play (I read ahead) we do not see Hamlet express any suicidal tendencies, which provides even more strength to the idea that Shakespeare is narrating this passage. Shakespeare’s death is a mystery, but if we read the famous “To be or not to be” in his perspective, we gain insight on how and why Shakespeare may have died.


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