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The concept of fate plays an important part in the play hamlet

The death of Polonius has given great difficulty, and even offense; its object should be fully comprehended, for it not only illustrates the character of Hamlet, but also is one of the leading motives of the play.

No other incident shows so deep a design, or is so appropriate for its purpose.

FateWhat is the role of fate in Hamlet?

Hamlet, acting blindly through impulse, slays the wrong one; the result is — guilt. This warning, therefore, speaks from the rash act: Let no rational being give up control to impulse which cannot see, cannot distinguish, the nature of a deed.

  1. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!
  2. The unhappy death of Romeo and Juliet result on the miscarriage of a letter.
  3. Had not the pirate ship failed to overtake the royal vessel on the appointed day, Hamlet on that eventful night, when in mental conflict between hope and despair, would not have been blessed with the happy inspiration of purloining the secret letter of the King, and of substituting a counterfeit; nor would he have returned with the original to Denmark, armed with the first visible and most absolutely damning proof against the secret criminal.
  4. Accidental was the arrival of the players at Elsinore, yet they enable him to reach, for the first time, a positive conviction of the King's guilt; accidental was the slaying of Polonius, yet it is the turning point of the play, at which Claudius assuming the aggressive, is in spite of his cunning lured on to judgment; accidental was the delay of the pretended pirate ship, yet it led to another unpremeditated incident, the purloining of the secret letters, which gave Hamlet the only proof he could so far offer the public in justification of his "revenge. Poor Desdemona's fate hangs on the accidental dropping of a handkerchief.

Man must, therefore, reflect before proceeding to action. But, through reflection, Hamlet is unable to slay the right one; thus he cannot perform the great injunction laid upon his soul.

Such is his dilemma; if he acts, it is through impulse, and he falls into guilt; if he reflects, he cannot act — that is, he cannot do the Great Deed of his life, and so commits, at least, a sin of omission.

  • Common artisans may rough-hew a block of marble into the general shape of the statue required; but an artist's skill is further needed to chisel it into the distinctive shape of some individual human form;
  • If he acts quickly, he does so on impulse.

What will be Hamlet's solution? He tells it himself in the latter part of the play.

  • However, it is really the ominous atmosphere built up by Shakespeare rather than the Ghost itself, which gives us a sense of supernatural power in the universe;
  • It is Hamlet's fate that his father has been murdered by his uncle and his father's Ghost reveals the secret and lays the task of taking revenge upon Hamlet-a task which Hamlet feels inadequate to accomplish.

Throw yourself back into impulse, and abandon control through intelligence. But what will be the result of such a doctrine?

  1. In the quarry of life, man, from the limitations of his knowledge and experience, can hew out his ends or purposes in the rough; but he needs the aid of the Supreme Artist, — the great First Cause — Who, according to his good pleasure, shapes and completes them to their final and rational form. So this incident offers the profoundest illustration of Hamlet's character, and, at the same time, furnishes the motive of his death.
  2. This warning, therefore, speaks from the rash act.
  3. It will justify before the world the avenging blow which he is soon to strike. No other incident shows so deep a design, or is so appropriate for its purpose.
  4. His thoughts become as futile as that of a dumb dreamer.

Death — the thinking being who cannot act from thought must perish. Through the death of Polonius, Hamlet has committed the very crime which he was seeking to punish; the son of a father murdered has himself murdered a father.

Retribution will call up against him a son, at whose hands he will meet his fate.

Character is Destiny in Shakespeare's Hamlet

So this incident offers the profoundest illustration of Hamlet's character, and, at the same time, furnishes the motive of his death. Polonius deserved to die for his offences but Hamlet had no right to slay him. How to cite this article: The System of Shakespeare's dramas. Jones and Company, 1877.