Slaughterhouse Five and Hamlet
The delirium that takes place throughout their adventures continuously brings them one step closer to finding the true meaning of life. From the very beginning, the Play shows that Hamlet is not living the life that everyone would expect a prince to live. His father is dead and his uncle conquered Hamlet’s throne, while declaring Gertrude as his property. Also Hamlet and his love Ophelia are told they cannot be together, which truly initiates the Play. Hamlet doesn’t understand why his life turned out this way.
He is often confused and doesn’t know why his life seems to be ‘stuck’ in this horrific cycle of unfortunate events, or if there is more to his life, or a greater purpose. “To be or not to Ibrahim 2 be, that is the question” (3. 1. 57) . This is indeed the question! Is his life meant to go onto the path of suicide? Does existence offer happiness or is death a more enticing option? After speaking with the ghost that is his father’s spirit; he begins to slowly understand that he does have a purpose. That realization is completely defined by the killing of Claudius.
As Hamlet pretends to be insane, it helps him see more clearly how people act around him. It also allowed Hamlet to verify Claudius’s love for him as non genuine. Hamlet fakes being ill-minded to enable him to revenge his father’s death. A genius defence would be his obvious insanity. However, Hamlet is very aware of his surroundings and clearly figures out all the pieces to the dilemma. “ I am but mad north-north west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw”(2. 2:351-352) this clearly shows that he is pretending to be mad, and that he is extremely observant as to what is going on around im and his uncle Claudius. Similarly, everyone who knows Billy Pilgrim thinks he is mad. The reason why people have this assumption is because he claims that he travels through time involuntarily. Billy has claimed that he also travelled to another planet with aliens. The majority of Billy’s travels take place in his time of struggle and heartache. For example, he keeps on going back to WWII; mostly the bombing of Dresden, and often the end of the world. Billy always sees the end of the world ending in an exact way.
The only moments in which Billy is actually progressing with his life is when he is travelling. Billy’s Journey in the search of the meaning of life starts and ends with his time travel, in other words his insanity, much like Hamlet’s. “We know how the world ends and it has nothing to do with Earth, except that it gets wiped out too” (01:26:20) this quote explains that he has seen the end of the world and that the aliens from planet Tralfamadore have told him why and how it happens. The bombing of Dresden is a significant event which makes Ibrahim 3 him insane. I was there, I was there in Dresden” (7:5:13) this was said in the hospital bed when the crazy man beside him was talking about the bombing and under Billy’s breathe he said “ I was there, I was there in Dresden” ”(7:5:14) the man beside him thought he was crazy and paid no attention to Billy. However in reality he re-lived it hundreds of times. The most challenging moment in Hamlet’s life was the main purpose in his search of the meaning of life, and then it finally hits him. “ Haste me know’t, that I with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge” (1. 5:29-31) This was an eye-opener for Hamlet.
He knows that it doesn’t matter if he lives or dies, as long as the revenge of his father’s death is accomplished. It is his absolute definition of happiness, whether he is alive or death. His father’s death must be avenged. His purpose was so strong that he dedicated the rest of his life to achieve his goal; he did not care how long it took him to succeed, because once he did it, he could rest and die feeling fulfilled. Hamlet created a plan and a strong strategy to kill Claudius without being killed afterward. He knew that if he pretended to be ill minded, everyone would excuse what he has done.
However he realises that getting close enough to Claudius alone, was beginning to seem impossible. “But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter, or ere this I should have fatted all the region kites with this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! O vengeance! Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murdered, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words And fall a-cursing like a very drab, A scullion! Ibrahim 4 Fie upon’t, foh!
About, my brain. —Hum, I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play have, by the very cunning of the scene, been struck so to the soul that presently they have proclaimed their malefactions. For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks. I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench, I know my course. The spirit that I have seen” (2. 2:537-560) this quote demonstrates his passion and dedication to his mission of killing Claudius to achieve happiness.
Billy Pilgrim’s purpose in finding the meaning of life is figuring out what everything he sees through time travel means. Billy Pilgrim has to understand why he sees his life and death many times, and why he sees the bombing of Dresden the most. “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time”(2. 23:1) this simply means he has no control over where he travels; Billy opens a door in 1955 and exits another door into 1941. Billy needs to figure out why those years are so significant. It all begins to hit Billy when he says “And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death”(1. ) I believe that Billy found his search for the meaning of life at that moment! He figures out that everything dies including the world, even the Universe. Nothing can prevent the events of death and destruction. In one way or another, it will happen. Billy Pilgrim discovered the meaning of life through time travel. Time travel allowed him to realize and experience much of his revelations. It explains why he would see an event over and over again Ibrahim 5 Hamlet and Billy Pilgrim have different types of insanities. For example Hamlet’s insanity is not real; he pretends to be insane in order to kill his uncle and get away with it. Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t” Although Hamlet’s insanity was an act, he did lose a lot. He lost his mother, his uncle, his friend, the love of his life and he lost his own life. However, all of this was his purpose and it reached an end, and the end was the meaning of life for Hamlet. “For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor, hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the youth of primy nature, forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, the perfume and suppliance of a minute. No more”(1. 3:5-10) Billy Pilgrim is completely sane; however people just do not believe him.
Billy says to himself “it’s true, it’s all true, every minute of it” (2. 37) This proves to me that he is not lying to anybody, it shows that he truly believes in what happened. Billy learned a lot from the Tralfamdorians, most of all he that “A dead person is in bad condition at that particular moment”(2. 34) We are a cycle of living things until the universe ends, which he sees throughout his time-travel. Billy Pilgrim is a man who coped with the hardest times of his life by learning to escape through his excursions in made belief travel. He has experienced WWII thousands of times; he is the only person who has ever done that.
That is truly remarkable and inspiring, especially to do that with an open mind each time. In retrospect, the meaning of life was different for both these characters, however they both accomplished the search through insanity and through something greater than themselves. The search for the meaning of life becomes quite difficult for Hamlet and Billy Pilgrim. They both experience horrific adventures in their lives along with the insanity that has been magnetic Ibrahim 6 to their personalities. The delirium that takes place throughout their adventures continuously brings them one step closer to finding the meaning of life.
This has proved the journey of the two characters, and has shown the world that insanity is not such a bad alternative to sanity. It may even alleviate pain and offer happiness and purpose. Ibrahim 7 WORK CITED Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Spark Publishing, . Shakespeare side by side Plain english) (3. 1:57) (2. 2:351-52) (1. 5:29-31) (2. 2:537-60) (1. 3:5-10) VONNEGUT,KURT. Slaughterhouse five. New York, New York: Dell Publishing, 1969. A Division of Random House Inc. (01:26:20) (2. 34) (7. 5:13)(7. 5:14) (2. 23:1) (1. 4) (2. 37)