Hamlet’s Fear of Freedom: An ‘Existential’ Attitude

Fatima Ahmad, Sajjad Haider Shami


This article investigates the reason(s) for what has polemically come to be termed as Hamlet’s procrastination in the light of existential doctrine of Sartre and explain how Hamlet’s crippling fears of : (a) having to resolve and,(b) then actualize the decision embroil him in the existential dilemma of futilely evading the responsibility only to realize, albeit at the heavy price of losing what he calls ‘the eternal jewel’ i.e., his own life, that it is the very essence and condition of our being and cannot be escaped. As Sartre claimed that even in not making a decision, a man takes an alternative decision i.e. of not performing the act, and is subsequently caught up in the clutches of responsibility again. This article analyzes in the theoretical backdrop of existential theory, using the descriptive-cum-analytical method, the notion of ‘fear of freedom’ and asserts that Hamlet had been the victim of this existential dilemma of not making the final decision, in order to avoid the burden of responsibility.


Shakespeare; Hamlet; Sartre; existentialism, determinism, being-in-itself, being-for-itself

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