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What did Hamlet mean when he said "there's a divinity which shapes our ends..."?

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brandin | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2007 at 12:36 AM via web

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What did Hamlet mean when he said "there's a divinity which shapes our ends..."?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2007 at 2:29 AM (Answer #1)

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Ah, what a great line!

There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.

This line talks about the intersection of individual free will with a specific kind of fate. We "rough hew" our fates, in that we make choices, but there is a "divinity" (a fate, or more likely in a Christian context, the will of God), that makes it so our individual choices work out as they should. This removes paradox and conflict (between will and fate), and gives meaning to the shapes our lives take.

Greg

Sources:

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franknstein | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2009 at 10:02 PM (Answer #2)

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Good answer, but it is hard to be completely serious about anything infinite. 
So, perhaps this applies only to a select few, like J-Lo

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bvwp | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2010 at 7:26 PM (Answer #3)

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Distinguished actor, Ian Richardson, taking a stroll in the lanes around Stratford, back in the 60s or thereabouts.  Meets two men trimming the hedges.  Has a chat.  Asks them, "But tell me, why does it need two of you?"  Answer, "I rough hews them, and he shapes the ends".

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chrzanowskidavid | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2010 at 5:17 AM (Answer #4)

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It means that God has a plan for us as much as we might complain about that, question that, or get in the way. I personally interpret this line as comfort in a great time of stress or pain.

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