Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.



Index of passages about

Suicide in Hamlet



Justin Adams as Hamlet



Ophelia by John Everett Millais




"O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!  (1.2.129-132)

Hamlet says this at the beginning of his first soliloquy, and goes on to express his disgust at the speed with which his mother went from his father's grave to his uncle's bed.
[Scene Summary]
Trying to dissuade Hamlet from following the Ghost, Horatio says that the Ghost could lead Hamlet to the edge of a cliff, then assume a horrible shape that would drive Hamlet mad. He adds,
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.   (1.4.75-78)

Horatio believes that there is a great danger that Hamlet would jump off the cliff to his death.
[Scene Summary]
The opening of Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy may be about wider issues than suicide, but in a few moments it is clear that he is contemplating it.
[Scene Summary]
Queen Gertrude's description Ophelia's drowning is the background for later discussions of whether or not Ophelia committed suicide.
[Scene Summary]
Immediately after we hear Queen Gertrude describe Ophelia's drowning, we hear two gravediggers discuss whether the woman who is to be buried in the grave that they are digging "drowned herself wittingly." The gravediggers' clownish attempts to use the arcane language of lawyers does little to clear the matter up.

Later in the same scene Ophelia's funeral procession arrives, and Hamlet and Horatio overhear an angry exchange between Laertes, Ophelia's brother, and a priest who believes that Ophelia committed suicide and should have been buried in "ground unsanctified." Soon after this, Laertes leaps into Ophelia's grave to embrace her one last time, then proclaims that he wants to be buried alive with his sister. This statement brings Hamlet out of hiding, and he denounces Laertes as a master of melodrama and mocks him by telling him, "Be buried quick with her, and so will I." It appears that Hamlet does not believe that Laertes would really commit suicide out of grief for his sister.
[Scene Summary]
As Hamlet is dying, he asks his dear friend Horatio to "Report me and my cause aright," but Horatio declares that there is some poisoned wine left, and he will drink it in order to follow Hamlet in death. With his last words, Hamlet talks him out of it.
[Scene Summary]