William Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Hamlet: Prince of Denmark’ remains one of the most celebrated, influential texts in world history, holding continuing relevance and significance throughout history due to its detailed, multi-faceted elucidation and exploration of many core facets of human existence; such as revenge, loyalty, truth, mortality, and power. As he alludes to in Act 3, Scene 2, Shakespeare uses the play to “hold, as ‘twere’, the mirror up to nature”, and display a paradigm and example of the complexity of humanity. Above all, however, Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ exemplifies the complexity and uncertainity surrounding the extent to which humans can exercise free will upon their own lives. Through this, Shakespeare explores the perpetual contest between fate and free will, depicting the universal struggle between human tendancy to accept one’s ultimate fate and the natural desire to control this destiny through personal choices, while also depicting the conflict between free will and evil inherent in the human existence. As the Player King suggests: “Our wills and fates do so contrary run that our devices still are overthrown; Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own” (III, II, 192-194)
Shakespeare explores this complex issue through the perpetual contest between fate and free will, demonstrating the indomitability and impotency of human will to control a preordained fate or divine destiny. This issue is deliberately left ambiguous and uncertain by Shakespeare so as to reinforce the complexity and intricacy surrounding the issue. From the opening scenes of the play, Shakespeare points to and foreshadows the clash between fate and free will that feature in the remainder of the play, through the complexity surrounding whether the characters can impose any will over Denmark’s tragic fate. In Act 1, Scene 1, Horatio cries out to the Ghost of Hamlet’s father: “If thou art privy to they country’s fate, which happily foreknowing may...
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