In Hamlet, what are some arguments that can be made based on the observation of the lack of free will of the play's characters? I am eriting a speech on Hamlet and I need help formulating a good thesis/argument. I have noted that most of the charaters lack a certain free will and are controlled by the wills of other characters. But this is a mere observation, and I need a stronger thesis that can focus on one or two of the characters, and not on a brood description. Any suggestions?

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Unless Shakespeare became a Calvinist, he would not portray any character as lacking free will. The problem in Hamlet is not that people lack the freedom of choice; rather, it is that they lack the courage and decisiveness necessary to make their choices.  Hamlet 's hesitancy comes from his melancholic and...

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Unless Shakespeare became a Calvinist, he would not portray any character as lacking free will. The problem in Hamlet is not that people lack the freedom of choice; rather, it is that they lack the courage and decisiveness necessary to make their choices.  Hamlet's hesitancy comes from his melancholic and extremely rational being; he constantly deliberates on what is the optimum method of ridding Denmark of its evils.  In addition, Hamlet is greatly affected by the Elizabethan concept of the Chain of Being and the superstition characteristic of the age.

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Ophelia is controlled by her father. Even though it was customary of the time period for girls to obey their fathers completely, she is shown to be weak-minded as well. Compare her to Juliet and there is a significant difference. (I sometimes wonder what influence Juliet would have had on Ophelia had they been friends.) Speaking of which, Ophelia didn't have any friends, so that made things worse for her. Maybe you could discuss the notion of how much can a person be controlled when s/he is isolated from other social sources. Hamlet had friends, but they too were influenced by the Ghost as post #2 so aptly puts it. The next question might be where free will gets its power. A strong and healthy mind? A stable family or support group? Neither Hamlet nor Ophelia had either of these to support them during their trials. Both were slapped with grief which can be an enemy to free will, as well shown through Ophelia's suicide and that final act of giving up. Who had power over her at that point? Hamlet? Her father? Answering these questions might lead you to a strong thesis.

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The one character who, it could be argued, controls Hamlet is the ghost of his father. He sets him on the path to revenge, and then intervenes to set Hamlet back on the path to gain it in the scene where he is chastising his mother. Beyond that, Hamlet is basically his own person, which is, as you say, a bit unique in the play.

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