Hamlet and Depression

Suicidal depression is not a modern phenomenon.  What the heck do you think Shakespeare was writing about when he wrote Hamlet?  Of course, it wasn’t called depression back then.  Ennui or melancholy were the usual terms.

Hamlet was acting insane during the course of the play to avoid being killed by his murderous stepfather, the King of Denmark.  But even in times when he confides to the audience, he shows his depression through his indecisiveness and his dwelling about death.

For those of you not familiar with Hamlet’s soliloquy (often called the “To be or not to be” speech) is basically is Hamlet wondering out loud whether he should kill himself.  By the way, a “bare bodkin” refers to the blade of a knife, not a nubile young wench.  If you have never seen Hamlet’s  soliloquy done properly, look to David Jacobi’s 1976 interpretation.


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