Throughout the entirety of Shakespeare's work, people of all walks of life encounter conflict on nearly every available front. Be it the clash of cultures, as in Othello: The Moor of Venice; a conflict of beliefs and morals as in Measure for Measure or the family and existential conflicts found in Hamlet, Shakespeare places his protagonists in highly original and increasingly desperate and impossible situations. The Bard is not plagued with the necessity to resolve his character's issues favorably, quite often the titular roles don't make it to the end of their respective plays alive. However, it's also not the rare occasion that the plot is diffused and ends with the protagonists happy and the antagonists getting their comeuppance. The difference between the comic conclusion and the tragic ending has little to do with how badly one lover wants the other, perseverance, or skill.
Shakespeare's plays rarely, if ever, completely come to happy close without the aide of an external force: a miracle, magic, or a series of highly unlikely coincidences and good fortune. Although it is up for speculation as to whether or not consistent plot devices are used as a convenient resolution to seemingly inescapable tragedy, with a little thought it becomes apparent that Shakespeare uses the Deus Ex Machina as a statement on the tragic nature of human existence.
[...] It appears as though extreme fortune was on Hamlet's side. It is ultimately up to the reader to determine if Hamlet had good luck, was brought back unharmed by God, was perhaps helped by the ghost of his father, or was simply benefitting from a convenient plot twist. One may speculate, however, that Shakespeare has intentionally allowed Hamlet to survive against all odds, to underscore how unlikely it is to overcome severe obstacles that lay ahead. Hamlet is a young prince, attempting to take revenge on the king, who has proven to have a talent for persuasion and manipulation. [...]
[...] Works Cited "Dues Ex Machina." The Phi Delta Kappa International 63.5 (1982): 298. Web. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/20386310>. Havercamp, Anselm. "The Ghost of History: Hamlet and the Politics of Paternity." Law and Literature 18.2 (2006): 171-97. JSTOR. Web. Robb, J. C. "Measure for Measure." Philadelphia Weekly. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/arts-and-culture/stage/Measure-for- Measure07212010.html>. Shakespeare, William. "Henry V." The Nortan Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. Nortan &. 1537. Print. "Shakespeare's 12th Night Study Questions." Cal Poly CLA - College of Liberal Arts. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. < http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/12thnight.html>. [...]
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