In act 1, scene 3 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, King Claudius's trusted chancellor and counselor, Polonius, overhears part of a conversation between his son, Laertes, and his daughter, Ophelia.
Laertes and Ophelia are discussing Hamlet's professed love for Ophelia, and Laertes advises Ophelia to be wary of having any relationship with him.
LAERTES. Perhaps he loves you now,
... but you must fear,
His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth.
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
The safety and health of this whole state,
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed; which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal. (1.3.17-31)
In other words, Hamlet might say that he loves Ophelia, but "his will is not his own." Hamlet...
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