The aesthetics of suicide are a major factor in Hamlet’s decision to not commit suicide. Suicide, according to Hamlet, is an ugly, cowardly act to escape from the unbearable conditions of a life like his. To Hamlet, suicide will bring peace or even more misery. The risk involves throwing away his life, which he not very fond of, and putting him into the unknowns of life after death.
Though it could have been a good place, such as heaven, we can assume that Hamlet was afraid of going to hell. The image that we conjure up in our minds when we hear suicide is usually a grotesque one of someone hanging himself or something of that nature. However, suicide may not be that way. Hamlet believes that through this action, he can find solace in his existence and become like one who sleeps forever; eternally happy (Act III, scene i).
In Hamlet’s first soliloquy, we discover Hamlet’s dark thoughts. He thinks of the world as “an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely.” This cheerless mindset morphs suicide into an attractive option. Also, we learn of Hamlet’s justification for thinking about killing himself. He goes on to grumble about the situation and conditions of his life, how his mother was able to remarry soon after her husband’s death, and to Hamlet’s uncle at that, and how much of a difference he sees between murderer and victim, uncle and father (Act I, scene ii).
A more loose interpretation of suicide can be found in the death of the Danish royalty. In the end of the play, we see the royalty evaporate. The King causes his own death by setting up the situation and getting himself poisoned in two different ways. The Queen drinks poison that was never intended for her. Laertes is killed by his own poison sword. However, as ironic as it is, the man that pondered suicide many times, dies in a painful murder that is later regretted by Laertes. As a whole, we can see that this is a suicide of Danish royalty. It killed itself, and is now leaving the country in the hands of a foreign leader (Act V, scene ii).
Hamlet’s decision to continue his life is one that defines the play. Without him, there is no story. Therefore, Shakespeare created true reason and justification for Hamlet to exist until the very end. In Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, we gather that Hamlet cannot bear his life, and seeks tranquility. Likewise, Hamlet’s belief in the afterlife also sways his decision to keep himself alive. He claims that the “dread of something after death” keeps people from killing themselves and it’s the nightmare that one can encounter in their sleep, which is representative of death (Act III, scene i). Ultimately, Hamlet also feels that he cannot quit until his mission is accomplished. If he does not get revenge for his father’s murder, Hamlet believes he will end his unaccomplished life with dishonor and shame.
Nobody truly knows whether suicide can lead us to a euphoric solitude or a demented hell. However, Hamlet does his best to think out the situation and reason what is best for him and his duty towards his father. As Hamlet develops, he realizes that he must continue living in this life, no matter what comes in his way. He concludes to this because he knows there is no life that is not problematic or unfair and that departing into the afterlife at such a time may lead him into the unknown, and there is nobody that is not fearful of the unknown.
The stereotypical view of suicide in Hamlet is molded by the morals, religion, and aesthetics of the people, and is questioned by a miserable Hamlet in his soliloquies, though resolved by not taking his own life and fulfilling his duty as the son of a murdered King and the son of society and its views.