Hamlet: "To be or not to be..."

Hamlet: "To be or not to be..."

Royal Shakespeare Company

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Hamlet's famous soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's play captures one of English literature's most celebrated moments. Here, at the pinnacle of his despair, Hamlet grapples with the existential dilemma of whether it is better to endure the hardships of life or to end the suffering through death, "To be or not to be: that is the question."

Throughout the monologue, Hamlet considers the meaning of life, philosophically contemplating the pros and cons of life and death. He reflects on the struggles and injustices of existence, suggesting that life is so miserable that no one would willingly suffer existence if they weren't so afraid of the uncertainty that lies beyond, ''For who would bear the whips and scorns of time... But that the dread of something after death.''

Shakespeare's mastery in character development shines through in this scene as Hamlet avoids personal pronouns like "I" or "me", distancing himself from his thoughts on morality. This technique subtly exposes his internal conflict and psychological depth, providing a glimpse into the complexities of his psyche without direct expression.

In this modern twist, Simon Godwin's 2016 production with the Royal Shakespeare Company, set in a modern-day African Republic, actor Paapa Essiedu brings a heightened sense of unease to Hamlet's subconscious. As a privileged prince grappling with the weight of his father's death upon returning home, Essiedu's portrayal vividly captures the inner turmoil and existential angst that define Hamlet's character in this pivotal moment.

Cast & Crew

(Director), Paapa Essiedu (Hamlet), (Writer)

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