Essay on Leadership Between Shakespeare's "to Be or Not to Be" and John Boyd's "to Do or Not to Do"

Published: 2021-07-14
1616 words
6 pages
14 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Leadership concept may get dealt with or conceived differently based on ages or even time. Therefore, the paper gets founded on the hypothesis on how concepts get handled differently from one age to another. It achieves the drawn by tackling the idea of leadership as presented by William Shakespeare's "to be or not to be and John Boyd's to be or to do."

William Shakespeare's "To be or not to be" brings forth an opinion about leadership from a different perspective which many seems not share in agreement. Many literary scholars argue the question as a soliloquy that establishes a state of balance especially in its first six lines (Bloom, 2). Shakespeare's through Hamlet gets claimed to think about the existence of both life and death or even a state of being versus not being. His argument continues to expound on how a person should consider dealing with matters life and death. An analysis of his case reveals life as the lack of power where the people who are alive exist at the mercies that come with the blows of fortunes and blessings.

On the other hand, the death which expounds on "not to be." empowers on the killing of oneself as a means of taking action, resorting to arms, denying defeat and even refusing the arrows that come with outrageous fortune. In Consideration of the depicted, it may be assumed that the issue of William Shakespeare seeming incorrect about the idea of leadership is justifiable and perhaps the existence of ending catastrophe. It is expected that Shakespeare should offer an answer which entails lessons of leadership or even contribute to an individual development of an insight of a better reasoning pertaining issues of life. Further explanation on the issue reveals Shakespeare to draw the character of Hamlet to decide (Bloom, 1602). The decision comes from the judgment which portrays the conscience to make cowards many people. The sentence is revealed as a significant one in the issue of "to be or not to be," since it reflects on certain pillars which guide leadership. On the same light, it entails a religious dimension due to its preciseness of the sin that takes a person's life.

As a way of clarifying the issues surrounding the case in discussion, Hamlet is revealed to be possessed by not only killing himself but also doing away with the father's murder. Throughout the concept of "to be or not to be," by Shakespeare, Hamlet makes delay in killing Claudius even when he has the chance and resort to making excuses. The portrayed depicts the manner in which people get cowardice by conscience even though conventionality demands for Claudius killing. Up to the mentioned point, it still unclear about what Shakespeare was trying to portray about leadership. We may argue that his pillar for the subject was based on conscious drive and not emotions. He, therefore, portrayed Hamlet as a leader who refused to be driven by the emotions of his father's demise but by conscious of life after death. The drawn still informs the topic case of "to be or not to be," which emphasizes life and death respectively. The discussed also justifies that concepts are dealt with differently depending on age and time as already highlighted in the introductory paragraph. Shakespeare lived about 400 years ago, and probably the depicted case may have been used then in explaining the concept of leadership (Burton, 7).

Other literary scholars also argue that the question of being got adequately answered by John Boyd in his novel, "The Last Starship from earth." On his part, he also shared in the concept of leadership based on, "to be or to do," which presented an argument that was agreeable amongst many people. John Boyd got credited by many people on his great leadership and the impact which he brought to the discipline forces. According to one Robert Coram who has been his biographer of ages, he influenced positively the fighting tactics of the discipline forces, the aircraft design and even the existing theory of the air combat more than any person who has been to the air force. Boyd also earned the name 40- seconds Boyd due to his ability to win any dog fights in minutes. He is, therefore, a great leader and perhaps the reason he gets noted to satisfyingly address the question raised by Shakespeare's Hamlet when the answer on "to be or not be," was incorrect according to the soliloquy of William Shakespeare in Hamlet (William, 1600).

John Boyd helps us to hypothesize the issue of leadership by bringing a character by the name Tiger whom he directly seeks the response. He informs him of one day coming to a fork in the road, and a decision must get made (Boyd, 5). He thus raises his hand and points on two different directions; one direction will make a person become somebody (to be) while the next course will make the person do something (to do). Further explanation on "to be," reveals that in being somebody, Tiger will have to make compromises and will have to turn his back on his friends since he will not be himself instead of acting as another person or in the interest of another person. Boyd goes further to elaborate that in trying to be somebody one will also join the association of compromises and will rise through ranks (Boyd, 9). The drawn goes contrary to his case where he had to struggle before rising through any rank because he always did what was right. In consideration of the elaboration given, Boyd tries to contrast his reality and that of the compromisers who can quickly rise through ranks provided they do what is not perceived right.

It thus reflects directly on leadership and the manner in which the leaders should and should not carry themselves. It also explains on some of the things a leader should do and those that should not be done. The second explanation on "to do," Boyd informs Tiger that the second direction pointed will make you offer service to your country, for the air force and even yourself in life. He goes further to mention that in deciding to do something, there is a likelihood of not being given good assignments or even getting promoted to other higher ranks (Dannenberg, 13). Your superiors will also not like your character of steadfastness and always doing the right things. Contrary to the first case, he will stick with the friends because he will have been true with himself and there exists a chance for a difference to get made.

The piece provided explains on Boyd "to be or do," but most importantly it comes out very clearly in explaining the concept of leadership based on time, age and even era. Leadership requires a person to be independent; the person should think and take action without any form of influence from other outward forces. That justifies the second explanation of "to do," which dwelt most on being independent minded and making very independent decisions which are also the key pillars of leadership (Doescher, 4). Unlike William Shakespeare's "to do or not to do," Boyd comes out very clearly in portraying the case of leadership from his reality and that of his demonstration through Tiger. He brings out a leader as a person who may receive challenges of not getting credited with better positions like the compromises. Leadership, therefore, entails being right and independent of the mind to make precise and correct decisions which can be adopted by other people to create better results.

On the same light, it should not be forgotten that the question raised by Shakespeare's Hamlet received a satisfying or correct answer from Boyd's novel, The Last Starship from Earth. Most of the ideas presented by Shakespeare on "to be or not to be," gave very little knowledge on leadership and instead touched on matters life and death. Many literary scholars argue that the difference in the manner in which Shakespeare and Boyd tackled the issue of leadership may have been contributed to greatly by the difference in time, age and era of living (North, 8). While trying to hypothesize the case discussed, it got clear that William Shakespeare choice of Hamlet soliloquy was not the best in explaining leadership but that also defined the time, age and era of his existence as opposed to the case of Boyd.


In summary, it is important to understand that William Shakespeare and John Boyd are two great personalities whose works and contributions still get appreciated. Both of them presented different opinions on Shakespeare's Hamlet, but literary scholars argue the issue to get based on the difference in time, age and even era. The paper, therefore, dealt with many hypotheses on concepts getting tackled differently from one age to another through the aspect of leadership. It achieved the portrayed by making reference to William Shakespeare's "to be or not be and John Boyd's to be or to do."

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare's Hamlet. New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2009. Internet resource.

Boyd, William. Ordinary Thunderstorms: A Novel. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins e-books, 2009. Internet resource.

Boyd, William. Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay. , 2015. Internet resource.

Burton, James G. The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard. New York: Naval Institute Press, 2014. Internet resource.

Dannenberg, Hilary P. Coincidence, and Counter factuality: Plotting Time and Space in Narrative Fiction. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008. Internet resource.

Doescher, Ian. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. , 2013. Internet resource.

Mendlesohn, Farah. On Joanna Russ. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, 2009. Print.

North, Ryan, William Shakespeare, and Christina Marlowe. To Be or Not to Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure. , 2016. Print.

William Shakespeare Adult Coloring Book. Lark Books, 2017. Print.


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