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Choose one to four lines from the "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy from Hamlet. Interpret Hamlet's line, and then apply it in an interesting way to Holden and his journey over the course of the novel. Apply it to the novel as whole. Besure to develop your idea and derive wisdom in the conclusion. Open book; quote both the play and the novel.

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet the “ to be or not to be” speech is all about Hamlet dealing with his problems. Hamlet is thinking about the meaning of life and death and what it means to really live in the world that is before him, or to pretend to live in another world in his dreams. When he considers living in the real world he wants to ”take arms against a sea of troubles” and deal with his problems head on. When Hamlet is considering his own death and suicide he says “to die; to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end” in this passage he has decided it s easier to just die. Holden Caulfield is dealing with his own mortality and decisions including whether or not grow up and deal with or to hide away in his fantasies. You can feel Holden's manic frenzy to connect with someone, even if he has to connect with somebody who has died, like his brother Allie. In the quote “boy, I felt miserable. I felt so depressed, you can't even imagine. What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie” (98). Holden and Hamlet are both grieving loved ones that have been lost. Neither character wants to deal with their depression. Holden deals with his depression by surrounding himself with people and talking to his deceased brother. Hamlet also speaks to the dead in the form of ghosts.


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In Hamlet's famous speech he believes that are giving up some of your power when you are at the mercy of “outrageous fortunes”. That is the power you give up to other people. You have to give up your power to others because it is really the way you can truly live your life. Hamlet believes that death is empowering and killing yourself is a way to take action by “defeating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Holden Caulfield feels powerless in his life. He believes everything is other people's fault because he is so immature and cannot take ownership of his own deeds. Everything is depressing and he is in a spiral of sadness. After making a date with Sally he started obsessing about money saying “it always ends up making you blue as hell”. Of course Holden says this about many things, including crossing the street, going to different schools, having a roommate and so on.

Holden Caulfield even mentions Hamlet. He enjoyed the smallest part of the play were Ophelia was “horsening around with her brother and teasing him” but the larger meaning of the play was lost to him because he kept “worrying about whether he's going to do something phony every minute”. Holden Caulfield can’t enjoy any part of his life because his depression and anxiety don’t allow him to see the bigger picture. Hamlet is in a similar situation he is slowly losing his mind and talking to ghosts when he should be dealing with problems right in front of him. Holden and Hamlet share this depression and sadness that will lead to their downfall.