"To Be or Not To Be" Soliloquy

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A "To Be or Not To Be" Soliloquy is a Soliloquy read by Prince Hamlet in the play Hamlet.



  1. Act III, Scene i, so called from Prince Hamlet's admonitions of "Get thee to a nunnery" to his former lover Ophelia.
  2. Called "Corambis" in the First Quarto edition.
  3. A plan established immediately before in the First Quarto but discussed in Act II, Scene ii, of the Second Quarto and subsequent editions.


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: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.


The question is: is it better to be alive or dead?
Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way,
  or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all?
Dying, sleeping
— that’s all dying is
— a sleep that ends all the heartache and shocks that life on earth gives us
— that’s an achievement to wish for.
To die, to sleep
— to sleep, maybe to dream.
Ah, but there’s the catch:
 in death’s sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come,
 after we’ve put the noise and commotion of life behind us.
That’s certainly something to worry about.
That’s the consideration that makes us stretch out our sufferings so long.
After all, who would put up with all life’s humiliations
— the abuse from superiors, the insults of arrogant men,
the pangs of unrequited love,
the inefficiency of the legal system,
the rudeness of people in office,
  and the mistreatment good people have to take from bad
— when you could simply take out your knife and call it quits?
Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhausting life,
  unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death,
the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns,
  which we wonder about without getting any answers from and which makes us stick to the evils we know
    rather than rush off to seek the ones we don’t?
Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking.
Actions that should be carried out at once get misdirected, and stop being actions at all.
But shh, here comes the beautiful Ophelia.
Pretty lady, please remember me when you pray.