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Fate In Hamlet: The Importance Of Actions

2343 words - 10 pages

In philosophy, a long debated problem exists regarding the idea of fate versus free will. If free will exists, then predetermined events do not occur. As humans, the heart of the problem lays in the existence of a deity governing over society, or rather, the ability of humans to influence their own future. Literature has acknowledged this key dilemma, ranging from Greek tragedies to modern philosophical novels. In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, fate plays a large role during the events of the novel, when Hamlet takes revenge for his father over his murderous uncle. During the time Hamlet takes place, many cultural elements act on the events of the play. Honor was of utmost importance ...view middle of the document...

Hamlet summarizes his dilemma simply as “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ Or to take arms against a sea of trouble/ And by opposing end them” (3.1.56-60). Hamlet introduces two important themes of fate and knowledge, relating to how humans try to avoid their fate. Hamlet concludes that humans choose life over death, because it is the lesser of two evils. While life consists of pain and suffering, it is not worse than he unknown of death. Hamlet recognizes the consists nature of humans to avoid death at all cause prompted by the mystery of death and Hamlet’s realized knowledge causes him to hesitate. The themes of morality, knowledge, fate, hesitation come together to explain what Hamlet is facing, as his knowledge of morality causes his hesitation to accept his fate. For Hamlet, the idea of death is close and he struggles with accepting it. Hamlet fears that in the “sleep of death what dreams may come” (3.1.66). Hamlet likens death to sleep and thus the metaphor extends the uncertainties of death. If death is sleep, then it will consist of dreams. Hamlet wonders whether these dreams will be pleasant or will he still be plagued by the fear and pain of life. Hamlet worries that death is filled with unrest and connects this to his hesitation, calling himself a “coward”. Hamlet witnesses unrest from his father’s ghost, who symbolizes the turmoil of death, creating his worry. Also, his ultimate fate causes hesitation, since death is his end. Hamlet knows he will die, ever since his mission of revenge was given to him, creating a sense of fate. God has destined Hamlet to die, because the act of revenge indicates a unholy act. From the beginning of the novel, Hamlet sees his outlined destiny created by revenge and struggle to accept it, looking between going to heaven and God versus enacting revenge for his father’s death. Furthermore, his negative analysis of women shows his struggle towards accepting what has happened to his family. During this scene, Hamlet attacks Ophelia and questions her loyal to him. However, his anger towards Ophelia goes beyond Ophelia and also connects to his mother. Hamlet curses Ophelia’s chastity or any future prospects of marriage and criticizes womankind with their makeup and flirtatious ways, saying “God has given you one face and you make yourselves another” (3.1.145-146). Hamlet’s critical tone towards women comes from his relationship with his mother. Not only has his mother betrayed his father by marrying his uncle, but also him. The play alludes to the ill-fated relationship between Oedipus Rex and his mother drawing parallel between Oedipus and Hamlet’s relationship with their mothers. Similar to Oedipus, Hamlet shares deep emotional ties with his mother, as seen by how distraught he is over her relationship with Claudius, and a relationship guarded by fate. Overall, Hamlet’s actions during...

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