The moral and philosophical predicaments of Shakespeare still haunt us today. His sonnets exhibit a fixation with time, uncertainty and death, whereas his plays explore the gory existence beneath the pleasant veneer we manufacture.
In the plays, human characters are flawed and inconsistent beings who are ignorant of life, but are required to live. While they survive by preying on themselves, they are always and everywhere haunted by an indifferent and calamitous evil.
The greatest tragedy, Hamlet, addresses the duplicity, hypocrisy, and uncertainty that we all deny. Encountering the hidden nature of things, Hamlet’s reality crumbles, and he is paralyzed by moments of overwhelming existential horror. His madness of doubt is nothing less than the epidemic which now infects the modern consciousness.
The pessimism of Hamlet grows even more harsh in subsequent plays. Macbeth, a grisly tale of pure evil, casts a vote against life – since it is nothing more than an incessant expenditure of energy without purpose. In King Lear, the victory of evil is complete.