William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Albert Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus

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The thought of morality and the preconceived ideals of death encumbered Hamlet from beginning to end. Hamlet opens on a cold and gloomy night around the courtyard, equivalent to the dead of winter. As Hamlet’s unwavering conscious ponders the meaning of life and death, questions begin to surface about life and death, leaving unanswered notions as the catalysts for the actions that Hamlet performed. The mystery of death can be seen as a fallacy due to the various preconceived ideas of it.

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus interprets the concept of absurdity in life. This idea is also one of the foundational ideas projected by Hamlet. What is the Absurdity of life? For Hamlet, life’s absurdity was the inevitable conclusion of death to every human being, and the disappointment of life towards its end. In Hamlet’s famous soliloquy “to be or not to be” Shakespeare stirred the pot with the fundamental concern of: validity and worthiness of a life well lived. The absurdity of life and its inevitable death can be characterized by Hamlets conscience, forcible action and Albert Camus’s myth of Sisyphus.

The questions fueling the idea that life is truly absurd, can stem directly from Hamlets Soliloquy “To Be or Not To Be”. Would it not be tempting for us; humans, to enter into ever-lasting slumber right when things in life become substandard or disheartening rather than to “suffer… the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”? Regardless of the temptation or simple thought, it is what the ever-lasting slumber entails afterwards that encompasses the minds of those who wonder and those almost willing.

As Hamlet paces the floor during his to be or not to be speech, he reflects mostly on long term negativities disrupting the balance of his life. He thinks about good times and bad times and wonders if the good times were worth more than all the bad. If the bad outweighed the good, life’s Absurdity would be validated. If good outweighed bad, life’s “Absurdity” would be anything but. “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…must give us pause.” Is life after death butterflies and rainbows or firebreathing monsters filled of pain and misery? Those are the questions encompassing the truths of life as an absurd presence or blessing in disguise.

Throughout the play, Hamlet is driven by the death of his father but is held back by the questionable circumstance of it. In addition to circumstance, he is faced with existential doubts and worries. He questions the validity of his life after Gertrude decides to marry Old Hamlets brother, not only is Hamlets family falling to pieces, but his love life slowly deteriorates also. With all the negativity flowing into Hamlets hands, the only other option than empathy and forgiveness was to descend into madness.

Hamlets forcible action towards plotting and the accidental death of Polonius affirmed the idea of life being completely absurd. His actions only fueled the fire, bringing more hatred to Hamlet and doubtfulness. The absurdity of life can only truly be defined if one believes it is inevitable to happen. Hamlet can easily define life as having an “unhappy ending” because he is living through a negative lens, instead of shifting his actions and desires to a more positive outcome. Which brings us to the common ground of “life is what you make of it.” For instance, if one such as Hamlet encompassed themselves in revenge and hatred, negativity will follow. Vis Versa for positivity.

Albert Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus accounts for an in depth interpretation of life as an Absurd construct. Basically it is a story about a man who routinely would push a rock up the hill only to have it fall down the hill back to where it started. The moral of the story is all about how you perceive the hardships to be in the long run. Absurdity is a contradiction because you can live with the absurd by facing the reality of it or you can run from it (aka suicide).

Camus proposes that if we believe a life of futile labor is a horrendous punishment than you believe in life as an absurdity. In Hamlets case, he suffers from the pressure of ruling over many people, constantly doubting his worth and value in that realm. He feels that lifes good moments only come in small spurts, while bad things happen all at once and last longer. From start to finish, Hamlets attitude towards life was critically antipathetic. By cycling in this way of thinking, he set himself up for the unraveling events that occurred as a result to himself.

In conclusion, we can agree that Hamlet was bounded by respondent emotion and feelings of existential doubt in humanity. Through Albert Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus, a direct correlation can be drawn between the meaning of life as an absurd construct and Hamlets conscience. Albert Camus came up with the idea of life being an absurd reality and Hamlet justified that through his actions. The story of hamlet sets the tone with gloom and confusion throughout, leaving a strong sense of disparity towards the end. We all can agree that the mystery of death is frightening, hamlet just happens to take it to heart.

Cite this paper

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Albert Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus. (2023, May 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/william-shakespeares-hamlet-and-albert-camuss-myth-of-sisyphus/

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