Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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During his struggle for revenge, does Hamlet discover the essence of humanity and how people can achieve meaning in life?

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Since Hamlet struggles with many different philosophical quandaries during the course of Hamlet, it is nearly impossible to decide whether Hamlet pinpoints the essence of humanity or how humans find meaning in life. There are, however, a few major points worth looking at. 

One of the play's major themes is the frailty of life. Hamlet spends much of his energy ruminating on the concept of death. Also, by the end of the play, most of the main characters are dead. As such, one of the essences of being human is the presence of death and the inevitability of an end to life. This is an undeniably grim theme, but it also highlights the importance of vitality while it exists. As such, part of the "meaning of life," according to the play, is the recognition that life is finite and must end at some point. 

Related to this idea is the notion of fate. In the famous "fall of a sparrow" speech in Act V, Scene 2, Hamlet finally renounces his incessant analysis and gives himself up to the whim of fate. This decision ultimately results in peace and allows Hamlet to finally leap into action after spending most of the play wallowing in indecision. Thus, Hamlet discovers that one cannot force life to take any particular turn through extensive analysis and planning; rather, it's better to relinquish control and allow life to take its course.

All in all, after his extensive philosophical musings, Hamlet comes to understand not only the limits of life, but also the freeing powers of relinquishing control. As such, if Hamlet comes any closer to discovering the essence of humanity or the meaning of life, then this discovery comes through his realization of the finite nature of life and humans' inability to completely control their fates. 

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