Suicide In Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Thematic Analysis

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Suicide in Shakespeare 's Tragedies: A Thematic Analysis

That state of mind, whether healthy and normal or unhealthy and abnormal, which leads an individual to the commission of self-murder, was one not likely to escape the careful observation and comment of the great psychologist of the sixteenth century ; therefore, scattered throughout the whole extent of his works, we find allusions to this subject, characterized by that deep, philosophical, and comprehensive knowledge of the motives and mainsprings of human action, which, as we have taken occasion frequently to remark, places him preeminently above all others of ancient or modern times. Some of the greatest minds have contemplated this subject; many of them, alas! viewing it through the dark, dismal shadows of their own sad experience.

One of the greatest minds of modern times has been brought to bear upon it, and a volume of great power and all-absorbing interest has been the result. Yet the "Sorrows of Werther," with its deep analysis of feeling and sentiment, is but an amplification of Hamlet 's great soliloquy, "To be, or not to be." And aside from the light which modern science has shed upon suicide as a manifestation of nervous disease, this soliloquy, uttered near three hundred years since, is the "end of the law" upon the subject when viewed in the abstract.

Shakespeare evidently regarded suicide as resulting not so much from what might be termed a morbid mental process, in the strict scientific acceptation

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