Does Hamlet live and die by making free choices, or are his choices all controlled by forces larger than himself?To what extent does Hamlet correpong to classical or medieval notions of strategy?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a central question to the play and there is no simple answer.  Hamlet was a college student happily engrossed in his studies when he's called home because his father has died.  His mother remarries much too soon to her brother-in-law.  These actions were out of Hamlet's hands.  Next, Hamlet sees the ghost of his father.  If that isn't horrific enough, the ghost tells Hamlet that his father's brother, Claudius, newly married to Hamlet's mother, is his murderer.  Furthermore, the ghost charges Hamlet with the task of vengeance.  Of course, there is the question of whether or not the ghost is real.  Regardless, Hamlet does have the option of disregarding the ghost, but considering all that has happened, how difficult would it be to do that?  Hamlet certainly made his own decisions, but he was also a tortured soul torn between duty and religious beliefs.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet does live and die by his own choices. Hamlet's reluctance to believe or react quickly to his father's death, and Claudius's guilt, show a man grappling with his own thoughts of right or wrong.

In the end, when he does act, he goes into knowing it might mean that he will die, and he chooses to go through with his plan anyway.

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