Hamlet's fate

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How does Shakespear use fate in Hamlet? Was it fate that Fortinbras should be the king of Denmark? Is that why the work was already done for Fortinbras when he went to raid the castle? Was it fate that Hamlet was unable to kill Claudius in III 3 because Claudius had to live to set up the match between Laertes and Hamlet? And how does Hamlet eccept his fate, or fight it? Sorry so may questions! Anyone have any insite?

-- Chrissy D (youshouldntbe@hotmail.com), September 19, 2002


I think it an be argued that fate plays a large role in "Hamlet" and in many Shakespeare works. Hamlet was compelled to act by his conscience and by "duty", but the way the events unfolded could certainly be attributed to fate.

"fate oft favors the man undaunted" was one of my favorite phrases from Beowulf.

-- Steve Seitz (stevetseitz@yahoo.com), September 20, 2002.

Fate was a powerful concept at the time. Fate was opposed, along with fortune, to a person's free will. Fortune, often personified as a woman, is 'a strumpet' because it/she dishes out good and bad stuff to people indiscriminately, regardless of what they deserve. Fate is a pre-determined end or result of things. Free will is people's ability to make their own choices and act on the choices.

Hamlet's conclusions on the issue are stated at V.i.285-287, V.ii.7-11 and V.ii.215-220. Throughout Act I-IV he rails against fortune. In Act V that bitterness has disappeared, and he has come to an acceptance of fate. It's not a cop out. He can and does still make choices and act on them. Only he accepts that there is a higher power with responsibility for how things turn out; and in V.ii.215-220 he argues that that power is ultimately a caring one. So he believes that he can go through life more calmly, without fear, and ready for, and accepting of, whatever eventuates, even though he can't know what that will be.

I don't think the issue of fortune/fate/free will is or should be bound to particular actions or events. I don't think Shakespeare was trying to say that any event or action of the play was governed by fate, or happened because it was fate. I think the point is that the issue is intellectual and religious. That is, it's to do with how people think about how they can/should behave/act, and then how they do behave/act because of that thinking.

Fortinbras didn't go to raid the castle in Shakespeare's version of Shakespeare.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), October 04, 2002.

Fate is key in this novel because it justifies the end, despite how most people believe hamlets behavior is justified (or not). The elizabethan wheel of fortune is a key concept, go look it up

-- Marlon J. Brando (Marlonbrando@fatfatfatfat.com), February 09, 2004.

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