Fate in Hamlet: The Importance of Actions

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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 at this time, causing the characters to be persuaded by the idea of honor tied to avenging a parent’s murder. Furthermore, the role of women of the time period shows the expected subservient nature of women. Women were concerned weak and fragile, their marriages were arranged, virginity was valued above all else in woman, and the only option left for a disgraced, either divorced or unmarriable woman was to join o nunnery or a brothel. The fate of the characters in Hamlet comes largely from their expected roles. Fate acts as a necessary component in any tragedy, including Hamlet and propels the events of the story. Hamlet exemplifies the inexorableness of fate and the futileness of free will and the actions of a person, since the novel ends with his death. In Act III, Scene 1 of Hamlet, Shakespeare confirms the inevitability of fate and the governance of a higher being through the actions of Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius, and Ophelia. Hamlet’s soliloquy and attitude towards Ophelia during the scene solidify his downfall and reveal his realiza... ... middle of paper ... ...at they will do in their lifetime. When Ophelia engages Hamlet, Hamlet stands to express his hatred of women, tying into his ill-fated relationship with both Ophelia and his mother. Beyond Hamlet’s own actions, the actions of the other characters contribute to his fate. Claudius’s conclusion that Hamlet is not mad leads to the fate filled symbolic trip to England. Also, Polonius’s belief that Hamlet still loves Ophelia sets up the rest of the play with his death, since he sets once again to spy on Hamlet in Gertrude’s chambers. The scene shows how fate controls the outcome of the novel from every aspect, including the character’s traits and the nature of humans, bearing the question whether or not fate actually exists outside of literature. With the idea that all humans have the same inherent nature, the idea of fate becomes more a reality than a theme.

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