Free Will In Oedipus The King And Shakespeare's Hamlet

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It is often argued whether everyone has the power of free will to handle the events that occur in their lives, or if everything that happens is just fate running its course. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet help further this argument. According to Webster’s New World dictionary, fate is defined as “something inevitable,” or “destiny.” For even darker definitions, Webster’s New World lists “death,” “destruction,” and “doom.” In Oedipus the King, Oedipus cannot quite seem to get away from his own destruction. Free will is defined as “the freedom of the will to choose a course of action without external coercion but in accordance with the ideals or moral outlook of the individual”(Webster 557). In Hamlet, the hero of the play …show more content…
Towards the beginning of the play, the ghost of Hamlet’s father visits Hamlet and asks him to avenge his death. He eagerly agrees to do so saying, “Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift/as meditation or the thoughts of love,/ may sweep to revenge”(1.5.29-31). Here Hamlet is ready to take action, and that he will do it as fast as one falls in love. He is already showing free will only a few scenes into the play. Another example of Hamlet making a clear decision based on his plans for revenge is when he has the perfect opportunity to kill the king. After stumbling upon king Claudius while he is praying Hamlet says, “To take him in the purging of his soul,/when he is fit and seasoned for his passage?/No./Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent./When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage/Or in th’ incestuous rage of his bed”(III.4.85-90). Hamlet has the perfect chance to get the job done but decides to wait, so that when the king dies, he will be partaking in sin. Hamlet later tries to kill the king, but instead accidentally murders the eavesdropping Polonius. Even every other death that occurs in the play traces back to Hamlet. Ophelia becomes depressed and later drowns because Hamlet has killed her father; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern die due to misinformation caused by Hamlet, and Laertes, Queen Gertrude, King Claudius, and Hamlet himself all die during the duel at the end, which is brought about because of Hamlet’s actions. All of the events unfold in this play due to one man’s

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