To sleep, perchance to dream…

Literary Tattoos: Shakespeare Hamlet

“To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. 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.”

- Excerpt from Hamlet‘s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.

This tattoo was submitted by Ashley:

I took my last exam today, the last test I will have to take to complete my Bachelors Degree. For me, this is huge. I can recall so many times when I wanted to quit. I would thrown down my book and want to scream out of frustration and stress. Giving up would have been so much easier than continuing. But then I would remember what I was working toward, and it would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t finish. And now I have.

Hamlet went through a similar dilemma. He wanted to give up, to kill himself to end the pain and responsibility, to give up on avenging his father’s murder. Out of duty (and partially out of fear) the Danish Prince vows to carry out the task at hand. I am not comparing my situation to that of Hamlet, but I have read this play so many times that I feel for the man. I understand his hesitation, his confusion, his sense of loneliness, and his fear.

Hamlet says that by dying we end all of our earthly suffering, which would be a relief. He then wonders what happens after we die, which makes him wearing of suicide.

Although I wanted to quit on multiple occasions, I knew that my life without this accomplishment would be much worse than the hardships I had to endure to reach my goal. And this is the reason that I got my tattoo. It is a reminder of the hard times that made this victory even sweeter. And it also will keep me going when I hit the inevitable rough spots that are to come. Let’s face it, I have an English degree, I’m just asking for stress.


  1. Kat says

    Great story, I applaud you for overcoming your obstacles instead of giving up. And you probably have one of the most beautifully moving tattoos I've ever seen.


Leave a Reply