Man has, and always will, continually struggle with drawing the line between Fate and chance – the fork in the road down which one believes there is order and purpose that leads all beings to a final destination in the universe, and the other believes there is only chance and coincidence that result from each individual’s next action. As Charles K. Cannon indicates, “The play that continually looks inward to observe itself as a play – suggests a pattern of diminishing concentric circles moving from what seems to be real to what seems to be illusion” (Cannon, 208). The scholarly critic points to the cycle and predestined path that the characters of Hamlet follow, as the royal characters of Denmark’s kingdom each take their own path into a tailspin of death and doom. Shakespeare’s play follows Hamlet’s revenge with the preconceived fact that every character introduced is already en route to their personal deaths. But on the other side of this coin, A.C. Bradley supports the idea that Hamlet and the surrounding characters are merely subject to the random wheel of fortune’s next spin. For example, when Hamlet encounters the pirate ship when searching for a way of transportation back to Denmark, he considers the occurrence to be divine providence; however, A.C. Bradley continues to believe that it is simply luck and good fortune that allows Hamlet to find the favorable pirates willing to grant him passage. Thus, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the characters – especially Hamlet – wrestle between the two forces of Fate and chance, with Fate ultimately prevailing over the mere mortal playing pieces of the story.
At the start of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet is introduced to both Fate and the spirit that is thought to ...
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... all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is ‘t to leave betimes? Let be” (v.ii.233-238). Hamlet realizes that Fate will have its way, eventually taking his life – regardless of how hard he fights to swim upstream. As Preston Thomas Roberts, Jr., published author of The Journal of Religion at the University of Chicago, recalls, “[Hamlet] is finite because he is more implicated in the course of events and meanings than a wise man should be” (Roberts, 368). This identifies Hamlet as a direct victim of fate. Hamlet has the ability and intelligence to know better, but he still follows Fate and eventually comes to terms with the predestination of all mankind. From these two scenes, Hamlet understands that there is more to life than living in safety, and decides to accept Fate as it leads him into the bloodbath that is looming within the walls of Denmark’s palace.
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