You are on page 1of 3

Beihl 1

Conner Beihl

Mrs. Balka

IB HL English 11

February 20, 2019

Supervised Essay: Motif of Mortality and Immortality

In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare there are many core motifs dispersed

throughout the whole play. While many convey the plot and progress the story, the motif of

mortality complimented by the motif of immortality reveals the development and stature of the

main character, Hamlet, as Shakespeare use many rhetorical devices such as foreshadowing,

Antithesis, and metaphors, to intertwine the motif into the threads of the play to develop and

reveal Hamlet to the audience.

In the beginning, Hamlet is a man of quizzical and conflicted nature, not sure of what he

wants or what will he do. His thoughts of suicide and end from being overwhelmed in his

situation brings forth a motif as he continues to describe his chance to leave, “To be, or not to

be” the mere question of existence and yet to just come to end portrays the mortality of himself.

The ability to just die and cease to “thaw, and resolve itself into a dew” is but the ability of

mortality, of ending life. Hamlet’s antithesis brings forth an enlightening question of existence,

the chance at which anyone can use the “bare bodkin” and in mortality exist no longer because

Hamlet sees that life is miserable and hard and sometimes not worth living. The antithesis more

than anything demonstrates the very nature that is mortality, to question his will to live, no

longer to breathe or blink but to sleep and for what Hamlet thinks at the beginning point of the
Beihl 2

book to be forgotten because he would be gone. However Hamlet changes in the story and as he

changes the motif of mortality changes with him. This theme of mortality and the conviction to

die slowly evaporates as Hamlet proves to himself that he may be mortal but in the minds of

others he may be remembered and he would live on in the minds of others. Concluding that the

change in the motif sparks the realization in the change in Hamlet, that as motif changes it is its

function for Hamlet to change as well.

Later, nearing the climax of the play, Hamlet is supposed to be going to England to be

killed, as this happens his soliloquy “How all occasions do inform against me” is given to the

audience. It is a true revelation and turning point to Hamlet’s themes and his development. No

longer quizzical and contemplative he knows himself and he knows what has to be done thus

along with his change so does the motif of mortality change. At this point the motif of mortality

begins to shift into an everlasting image of immortality. Though Hamlet is human and still dies

he realises it doesn’t matter he will live on. His “thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth” as he

knows what to do and foreshadows his accomplishments. This foreshadowing of what is to come

puts on display the change in motif of mortality, the unwillingness to die is no more and Hamlet

is willing to lay himself down on the line as the metaphor and personification describes his soon

to be killings deaths revealing that the motif of mortality is changing as Hamlet no longer cares

about his mortality. The “imminent death” of Hamlet and the other characters show that Hamlet

has gained his action and his abilities like Fortinbras, Hamlet is ready to die, the motif of

mortality is not the same and Hamlet isn’t either.

Lastly, the climax is over and the fighting is finished and Hamlet is giving his last words

to Horatio and in this very moment the motif of immortality is fully revealed along with the
Beihl 3

epitome of Hamlet’s change and development from the placement of the motif. Within Hamlet’s

final exemption from the stage he brings forth his appifanny, the motif of immortality, to

continue his life he “shall live” in the hearts and minds of everyone who knows “to tell

[Hamlet’s] story” because if Hamlet is remembered he is image is not dead, his image and

himself would be immortal. Thus it foreshadows the news that will spread in all progressing the

motif of immortality in that the story would be told and upon the reader, the motif of immortality

is present even in the dead. The foreshadowing also does much much more as it displays that the

play may be over but it will continue to progress as its own, in the minds of the readers. In the

end of all of Hamlet’s development and change, from his confliction to his action the motif of

immortality is the final thoughts of the reader and what the play had to say because it was

developed and portrayed through the foreshadowing and alluding nature of the story.

In the end, mortality and immortality as motifs were not the soul driving factors of

Hamlet’s and the play’s development but did have their core importance and factor to at which

the purpose they served within Hamlet and the play was evident and suffice. The motifs of

mortality and immortality had been revealed and put on display by the way Shakespeare uses

antithesis, foreshadowing, and metaphors to create a development in Hamlet and a stir in the

audience.

Related Interests