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Hamlets Hesitation

← Chinese ClassicRevenge in Gimpel the Fool and Hamlet →

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Shakespeare wrote an interesting tragedy, Hamlet. The tragic action in the play originates from a flaw of shame and horror which results to the protagonist suffering intensely. In the play, Hamlet that plays the role of the protagonist has a tragic trait in his character and behavior of uncertainty and delay in action. The protagonist faces two kinds of conflicts. First, he has an inner conflict in the mind and his soul and secondly, he has a physical conflict as he collides with his enemies and opponents. However, the sense of the tragic impression lies in the fact of waste. At the end of the play, a wasted talent and an unnecessary suffering comes out clearly. Why did Hamlet hesitate to act after he promised the ghost of his father that he would avenge his murder on his behalf?

In the tragic play, the character of Hamlet stands out as different from that of other characters. His character has a characteristic of strength, will, and passion that has a combination of sentiment and thought. He indulges his imagination and thought to reflect upon terrible nature of crime and refining the schemes that he would use in his revenge mission that to put it into immediate action. His passion reflects a will to think carefully instead of acting in an immediate manner.

 The son of a murdered noble, Hamlet has an obligation to avenge the death of his father with any chance that comes his way. However, he decides to wait and performs the act at the end of the play. Hamlet does not avenge the death of his father immediately because of certain reasons. Hamlet hesitates to kill King Claudius because he suffered from a form of Oedipus complex and for the fact that he had sanity and practical too perform an act of murder. The basic sanity that Hamlet possessed, kept him from committing an immediate act of murder. In society, people grow to believe that those who commit acts of murder have insanity or some form of sickness. The society where Hamlet lives has no exception from that norm. However, his society believes that the son of a murdered noble has the responsibility of finding those who killed his father and his death. Therefore, Hamlet has an obligation to avenge the death of his father.

When the ghost of king Hamlet appeared to Hamlet and told him that Claudius killed him by pouring poison in to his ear, he did not act on the word of the specter immediately. Hamlet does not go to kill King Claudius immediately but instead takes time what the ghost had told him. Hamlet contemplates whether the ghost was good or bad judging by the fact that what the ghost had told him had a serious undertaking that could lead to the death of a person.  Hamlet does not want to act stupidly just because a ghost told him that Claudius killed his father. This makes him to try to find out whether the ghost told him the truth.  Hamlet engages himself in plans and carries out analyses of situations.

When actors came to town, Hamlet implored one of them to perform a play called the murder of Gonzaga that would happen the next day. Hamlet uses the play as a scheme to find out whether his uncle, King Claudius killed his father. The play that Hamlet requested has similarity to the murder that the ghost described, to him. Hamlet wants to capture the conscience of King Claudius through the play. Hamlet considers that if the manor of King Claudius would change with the play then he would know that he killed his father. This clearly shows that Hamlet did not hesitate to fulfill his commandment because of indecision but rather he wanted to ascertain that the ghost had told him the truth and that if he would carry out the revenge then it would have been on the right person.

Hamlet had been plagued by self-doubts. This comes out clearly in the second soliloquy where the essence of the true conflict that Hamlet experienced comes out. He has a commitment to avenging the death of his father, but he cannot act on behalf of his father because he had revulsion towards performing the revenge. The self-condemnation that Hamlet has takes several forms. Hamlet engages in a series of imaginary and demeaning insults that highlights him as cowardly. He feels he has not done anything to King Claudius to avenge the death of his father. This makes him feel as if he has no ability to revenge the death of his father.

Hamlet failed to suppress his apprehensions of committing murder. This makes him try to focus on a plan that would ensure that King Claudius admits that he killed his father. Hamlet could not find a way that he could use to confront King Claudius and make him agree that he killed king Hamlet. The only way he could do that required him to formulate a plan that would force King Claudius to confess his actions. Hamlet figures out that because he had no way of confronting king Hamlet, he would make him confess his actions by making King Claudius have a guilty conscience.

The hesitation that Hamlet had in avenging for the death of his father has a relation with the Oedipus complex that he had. Hamlet loved his mother in a certain manner. This fact presents itself clearly towards the end of the play. Towards the end of the tragic play, Queen Gertrude drank poison and died. Hamlet responded to that by killing Laertes. The mother of Hamlet had died, and it happened that he decided to kill King Claudius at the same time. Hamlet delayed killing King Claudius because he understood why King Claudius wanted his father out of the way. When his mother died, Hamlet decided to kill King Claudius because without his mother he had nothing much to live for because his life had bed ruined. Without his mother, he had no passion to live.

Hamlet hesitated to carry out the revenge because he feared that if King Claudius knew that Hamlet wanted to kill him, he would have made plans to make Hamlet appear bad and would instead kill him. Therefore, he had to delay and look for a proper way that he could use to avenge the death of his father once he knew that king Claudius had murdered his father.

Committing a murder was a serious crime in the society that Hamlet lived. Hamlet did not want to kill without purpose because that would have led to his own death. Hamlet has intelligence and has a sense of social duty. He wanted to have the support of the society once he avenged the death of his father. The only way that he could have the support of the society and prevent his own death, he had to display a sense of moral integrity. He decided to use the play to have King Claudius show people that he murdered king Hamlet. Once he proved that, the society would support his revenge mission and he would appear the hero, in his society. This showed that Hamlet delayed the revenge because of a sense of social and moral obligation.

Hamlet hesitated to perform his revenge because he relied on morals and had a sense of nobility. As a noble man, he had the responsibility to confirm that his uncle had indeed murdered his father, as an action of proving to the society of his actions and more so, as an action of nobility. Nobility, in the sense that he could not just believe words that came from a ghost. In his third soliloquy, to be or not to be, Hamlet questions whether one should live or not, but it happens as a question of whether he should act or not based on the responsibility he has towards the revenge mission. This has governance from reason, as opposed to frenzied motion. Hamlet faces a state of divide between morality, responsibility and societal nobility. His morals do not allow him to kill, yet as a son, he has the responsibility of avenging the death of his father. At the same time, he has to display a sense of nobility to the society judging by the fact that he is the prince. All these facts make him hesitate because he cannot decide the proper action that he can take in the situation he finds himself. This makes Hamlet spent most of his time thinking instead of acting. He wanted his revenge to display him as a hero in every perspective and display King Claudius as an evil man.

In conclusion, Hamlet delayed his revenge against King Claudius mainly because of indecision and self-doubts. He wanted to perform a revenge that would be right in every aspect. Despite the fact that Hamlet hesitated, it did not make him a coward. Rather, his hesitation helped display him as honest, moral and noble because he proved that his uncle killed his father. The death of his mother also quickened his action because of his love for her.

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