The Rest Is Silence
…he…may give his saying deed…no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Be as ourself in Denmark
O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
Which dreams indeed are ambition
….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:
Hamlet at heart is just a student who wants to return to Wittenberg. But he cannot breach the custom that unites a king (or his heir) with his kingdom. He cannot reform his “old stock.” His choice is not his own – he is subject to the “voice of Denmark.” Both his father and his uncle want him to be like them “in Denmark.” Hamlet’s dilemma is whether “to be or not to be”…”so like the king THAT was and IS THE QUESTION of these wars.” He kills Claudius only after he knows that he himself is dying, so he can avoid inheriting the kingdom and being dragged into hell by his union with it, as Claudius was.
In the end he finallly silences the “voice of Denmark” (or at least passes it over to Fortinbras – “he has my dying voice”) – going to his final rest, free from dreams of ambition. “The rest is silence.”