To Sleep, Perchance to Dream: Remembering William Shakespeare on 23rd April The Legend's Death Anniversary

Today, April 23rd, marks the anniversary of William Shakespeare's death in 1616. While the cause of death remains uncertain, the legacy of the playwright transcends time. We can, however, glean insights into his thoughts on mortality by examining his plays.

Shakespeare's characters grapple with death with a profound and often melancholic air. In Hamlet's famous soliloquy, "To be or not to be," the prince ponders the unknown that lies beyond death, questioning the very nature of existence. He contemplates death as an escape from the "sea of troubles" of life, yet fears the "undiscovered country" that awaits.

Death is not always presented as a fearful unknown. In Julius Caesar, Caesar himself declares, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Here, courage is linked to facing death with dignity, a sentiment echoed in many other works.

Shakespeare's characters also contemplate the impermanence of life itself. In Macbeth, life is likened to "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." This bleak view highlights the fleeting nature of human existence.

Despite the darkness, Shakespeare also offers glimpses of hope in the face of death. In Romeo and Juliet, the lovers' tragic demise transcends mortality, uniting them in a form of eternal love. 

Shakespeare leaves us with a complex and multifaceted view of death. He reminds us of its inevitability, the fear it can evoke, and the courage it may require. Yet, he also suggests the possibility of transcendence and the enduring power of love and memory.