‘To be, or not to be’: Shakespeare Against Philosophy

Citation:

Wilson, Jeffrey R. “‘To be, or not to be’: Shakespeare Against Philosophy”. Shakespeare 14.4 (2017): , 14, 4, 341-59. Web.

Abstract:

This essay hazards a new reading of the most famous passage in Western literature: “To be, or not to be” from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. With this line, Hamlet poses his personal struggle, a question of life and death, as a metaphysical problem, as a question of existence and nothingness. However, “To be, or not to be” is not what it seems to be. It seems to be a representation of tragic angst, yet a consideration of the context of the speech reveals that “To be, or not to be” is actually a satire of philosophy and Shakespeare’s representation of the theatricality of everyday life. In this essay, a close reading of the context and meaning of this passage leads into an attempt to formulate a Shakespearean image of philosophy.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 08/13/2019