The tragedy of Hamlet gets its power from basically being a typical tragedy. There is a tragic hero who believes himself to be more than man, almost Godly, in a sense that he is the master of his own life. His downfall results in him understanding the fundamental fact that he is simply human. He will die like the rest of us, and there is no way for him to control his fate.
Hamlet struggled with control because he was not allowed to grieve. Claudius controlled his life, didn’t let him go to college, and planned on killing him. Claudius literally was the controller of Hamlet’s life, and until Hamlet left for England, he truly didn’t have that freedom to lead his own life. That trip to England is a significant shift in Hamlet’s character; he comes back more mature and understanding of his actions. Hamlet doesn’t really act like his crazy self anymore, and this idea goes hand in hand with Hamlet understanding that not having control over his life is okay.
The passage in which Hamlet discusses that “there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow,” he states that he understands his life is not under his control. Whatever higher power up there is in charge of his fate, not him. I feel very strongly about this statement because it is the same realization I had when trying to accept my mother’s death. I believe this is Hamlet’s final stage of grief: acceptance that it is not in his control, and that it is okay. The last sentence in that passage is “Let be.”
Truly, Hamlet has accepted that life isn’t really in his control. That’s what makes him such a fabulous tragic hero. He comes to accept that his father’s death happened, revenge won’t truly change anything about it, and that he needs to move on. Whether this means that Hamlet believes in a higher power is a different story, or if he believes that death is inevitable. I think his five stages of grief allows him to understand that death is a part of life that humans really have no control over. It is a unknown that can happen at any time for any reason – I needed to make peace with this idea too.
It is also argued that Hamlet is making peace with his true place in the world, that he isn’t some God like Oedipus thought he was, but I don’t entirely agree with this idea in the sense that readers enjoy tragic heroes being put in their place. My personal sympathy for Hamlet comes from his struggling with grief for his father, accepting that significant death, and coming to terms with the lack of control he has for the unknowns of life. Others can have sympathy for him because he turned from this arrogant prick to a humbled guy, but I feel like there is a missing complexity they do not see.
Why was Hamlet an arrogant prick? I don’t know, maybe because his father was murdered and he never got to be sad about that because the murderer ended up marrying his mother and taking the throne for himself. Even I am bitter for Hamlet – when I don’t need to be.
My opinions don’t suggest that I forgive Hamlet for his wrongdoings and his desire for revenge and violence; I don’t agree with that. I think anyone who thinks about carrying out that scheme is stupid. I don’t support that (and I don’t know why I have to continually say this when I stick up for Hamlet, but here we go again). Instead I merely suggest that more people understanding WHERE THE HELL HAMLET IS COMING FROM. Have your parent die and let’s talk.
I think the flaw within all humans is the preconception that we have control over our lives, but then with maturity and acceptance I believe that humans come to terms with the external forces around then (whether religious or not) that influence their lives for good or bad. Sometimes we all just need to let go and understand its not in our power, and I believe that’s a general theme in tragedy. In Hamlet, it’s more specific. I believe that the play reflects on how human’s need to overcome and accept their lack of control over death.