How Hamlet Defines What It Means To Be Human

Shakespeare Unlimited

“What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed: a beast no more.” Hamlet is uttering probably the simplest yet most profound observation in the entire play. We as humans often approach our lives with a bestial perspective. We indulge in meals, we lust, and we enjoy idleness. But this is obviously not what defines our species. Unlike other animals we have the gift of thought, imagination, reason and wit, and if we fail to use these endowments we are not living as true human-beings but merely as imposters of such. Beasts trapped in humans’ bodies. Without those things we are not truly human. Hamlet is indirectly encouraging us to be human-as-God-intended: for some Noble purpose. If we neglect to use our unique faculties that define us as human we are committing “the sin of…ingratitude”, for “he that made us…

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