To Be Or Not To Be? (from Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet)
Shakespeare W. To Be Or Not To Be? (from Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet). Reprint in: Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal. January 2016, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 70.
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
This year is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death (1564-1616). One of his most famous passages, perhaps the most famous, is Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To Be Or Not To Be.” He speaks in Act 3, Scene 1, while his uncle Claudius, who has become king by poisoning Hamlet’s father, and Polonius, the king’s councillor, hidden behind curtains, overhear him. To this day scholars argue over the meaning of Hamlet’s machinations.