Fate vs. Free Will

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Shakespeare’s overall tone in the play Hamlet epitomizes the long disputed question; is Hamlet’s outcome determined by fate or his own free will? Hamlet is forced to make a life-altering decision when his father’s ghost asks him to kill his uncle Claudius. Hamlet is faced with two options. His first is to kill Claudius, which is treason and face life in prison or even death. The other option would be to not avenge his father and suffer the consequences in purgatory, Hamlet states, “Till the foul crimes done in my days of the nature/ Are burnt and purged away”. By selecting whichever of these options, Hamlet seals his fate in either the mortal world or the afterlife. Hamlet’s decision to kill Claudius ends up “damning” him, and unfortunately, everyone else involved. In this tragedy, it is clear that Hamlet’s actions have predetermined outcomes. Hamlet was destined to be damned the moment he was asked to avenge his father. There is the argument that it was Hamlet’s free will to kill Claudius based on the quote, “my thoughts be bloody or nothing worth.” Killing a King is punishable by lifetime imprisonment or even death. By killing Claudius, Hamlet will be admonished by the court and either consequence that he will receive is awful. The other option instead of taking Claudius’ life would be to disregard his father’s ghost and go on with life as normal. This option seems prime to many, yet when Hamlet dies he will be stuck in purgatory for not avenging his father. In Hamlet’s monologue, purgatory is referred to as “The undiscovered country from whose bourn/ No traveler returns.” This choice that Hamlet has to make is fated either way to be castigated in the two worlds of reality and the afterlife. Hamlet’s actions do not only affect him, but everyone surrounding him. Ophelia is the most shaken up by Hamlet’s choices. She ends up losing everything that is important

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