The Rest Is Silence : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

What is the meaning/significance of Hamlet's final words: "The rest is silence"? Is this Hamlet facing a terrible final truth that there is in fact nothing "after death" but emptiness and a death-like silence? Perhaps a cynical and atheistic suggestion on Shakespeares part...

-- Matthew Hopkins (, January 05, 2003


I doubt it.....W.S. was probably either Reformed or "closet Catholic" but unlikely to be a godless heathen! LOL....methinks he was just signalling the end of the story.

-- Bruce (, January 07, 2003.

Psalm 115:16-18, ‘The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth he hath given to the children of men. The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord.’

‘Rest’ may surely be seen to have two meanings: ‘whatever else there is’, and also the sense Horatio gives it at line 365, of ‘sleep’. Compare, of course, III.i.56- 64.

In the sense of sleep as silence, it has connotations of peace and calm, without troubled dreams.

In the sense of 'whatever else there is', Hamlet, dying with a psalm on his lips, may be seen to believe he is going to heaven. Hence, by going to eternal life, he is conquering death. As he has also just been concerned that Horatio tell his story, to clear his 'wounded name', and Horation has agreed, Hamlet can hope that his fame will live on on earth for good he has done, thus conquering death in a second way.

-- catherine england (, January 07, 2003.

continuing with the common theme of pain and death entering through the ears of King Hamlet and Denmark, the fact that Hamlet states this means that no more will enter his ears. No dagger, no more pain, no more poison. Silence represents his peace and assurance. or so I believe.

-- cwolff (, February 03, 2003.

The Rest Is Silence indicates the silence of his eternal sleep that he will not be entitled to hear anything pleasant or unpleasant. And that his rest will be an undisturbed one.

-- Anonymous (, April 08, 2004.

maybe he wanted everyone to shut up and think of what they have just witnessed.

-- (, December 14, 2004.

that's what i think, too.

he was referring to life and what has happened, not to death and what awaits him.

he saw his father's ghost, how could he think there's absolutely nothing after death?

he meant, from now on, here on earth, he will stay silent.

-- jane (, February 15, 2005.

Well I think it's both. The image is a biblical one, from one of the psalms - they who 'go down into silence'. The bible never suggests there is 'nothing' after death. Hamlet doesn't mean nothing either; he just means that for him it is going to be peaceful - rest.

-- catherine england (, February 15, 2005.

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