Hamlet and The Desire-Destiny Paradox

872 Words Feb 26th, 2018 3 Pages
The most quoted line of Hamlet, of Shakespeare’s works, possibly of all Elizabethan literature, presents a philosophical Hamlet who questions “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,” Shakespeare does indeed explore the individual’s enduring need to define one’s role or identity within society, but presents the paradox of whether to embrace one’s fortune OR to ‘carve for himself’ a fate and identity. Hamlet spends much of the play reasoning his way out of his role as avenger, whilst Ophelia is captive to her father, brother and the expectations of an ideal Elizabethan woman. Shakespeare’s clever use of literary devices - soliloquies, doubling, accumulation and so forth – amplifies the struggle between desire and destiny, fate and free will and a sense of pathos, as both Hamlet and Ophelia are led to their demise.

Our tragic hero Hamlet, has his fate unwillingly imposed upon him when the ghost of his late father, the former king, commands Hamlet to ‘revenge his foul and most unnatural murder’ against Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle who has taken his brother’s crown and queen. The depravity of his fate is met with the intense drama of his reaction, created by the exclamations scattered throughout his soliloquy and the rhyming couplet; ‘O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right!’ Hamlet is a moralist and philosopher, and so he sees all too clearly the…