The concept of Fate plays an important role in the play Hamlet, especially in relation to the character Hamlet.
In the beginning of the play, the forlorn Hamlet is approached by his father?s ghost, revealing to the former his duty to Fate; Hamlet must avenge his father?s death in order to ultimately cleanse Denmark from its rottenness. Here, Hamlet feels the burden that Fate has put upon his shoulders. ?The time is out of joint: O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!? (I, 5, 188-189) Hamlet undoubtedly feels that he was born to avenge his father?s death, and he vows to devote his life to the duty of revenge. Here, ?…Hamlet realizes that he is the man upon whom the fate of the kingdom -his kingdom really-depends? (228).
Although he does not ultimately do it, Hamlet tries to take Fate into his own hands. Hamlet becomes obsessed with his mother?s injustice to his dear father. He finds that he must restrain himself from letting his deep-rooted disturbance with his mother veer him away from the duty that Fate has set before him. Before the bedroom scene, he must say to himself, ?I will speak daggers to her, but use none? (III, 2, 367). Hamlet should not be letting these thoughts go this far; his duty is to take revenge on Claudius, not his mother. Hamlet seems more preoccupied about ending the incestuous relationship than actually avenging the murder. Also, the scene in which Hamlet sees the King in action of praying and speaking words of repentance should not be overlooked. Here, he thinks about his duty, and ponders whether or not he should fulfill it at the moment. Not knowing that Claudius? words have no heartfelt meaning, Hamlet decides that it would not satisfy him if his act of revenge would send the seemingly repentant Claudius to Heaven. He reveals that he wants to take revenge on Claudius when his heart is sinful and ?Then trip him, that his heels may kick at Heaven/And that his soul may be as damned and black/As Hell, whereto it goes? (III, 3, 93-95). Hamlet should not be taking these matters into consideration. Fate has declared it Hamlet?s duty to take revenge on King Claudius, but not to determine where his soul will rest.
Hamlet moves from trying to comprehend Fate to accepting Fate for what it is. In the final act, he admits to Horatio, ?There?s a divinity that shapes our ends,/Roughhew them how you will? (V, 2, 10-11). Here, he realizes that Fate will ultimately have its way, no matter how one tries to meddle with it. It is evident that Hamlet has given up trying to interfere with Fate. He realizes that death will come upon a person when it will come, and that one should be ready to accept this undeniable fact. Essentially, this is what Hamlet means when he says to Horatio, ?There?s special providence in the fall of a sparrow . If it [death] be now, ?tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all? (V, 2, 198-201).
It should also be noted that throughout the play, there is a certain fate which seems to protect Prince Hamlet so that he may fulfill his public responsibility to his kingdom-to cleanse Denmark of its rotten royalty. Hamlet just happened to have his father?s signet with him at a crucial time. He also happened to be the only one to be whisked onto the deck of a pirate ship. ?As surely as there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow, in the life of this prince there is a special fate at work beyond mere good fortune or luck? (230).