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To Be or Not to Be:. Suicide in Shakespeare By Ronjon Siler. Shakespeare and Suicide.

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To be or not to be

To Be or Not to Be:

Suicide in Shakespeare

By Ronjon Siler

Shakespeare and suicide
Shakespeare and Suicide

In the 15 plays classified as tragedies, there are 13 definite and 8 possible suicides, ie, a total of 21 incidents for evaluation. Among the 13 overt suicides, at least 7 are depicted as being admirable under the circumstances at the time. Also, in various ways, 4 of these 13 were assisted, and at least 3 others contain an imitative element. Overall, the action of taking one's life is presented in a neutral or even favorable light, and the audience is left with a mingling of pity and admiration for the victim, not reproach. --Larry R. Kirkland ("To End Itself By Death: Suicide in Shakespeare's Tragedies," Southern Medical Journal)

“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 heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. 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…” William Shakespeare in ‘Hamlet’



(“Antony and Cleopatra”)


(“Julius Caesar”)