Essay On Why Hamlet Delays Killing Claudius
Hamlet s delay in seeking revenge
Revenge should know no bounds Claudius
In William Shakespeare s Hamlet , Hamlet vows to avenge his father s death at the hands of Claudius, however, he procarastinates throughout the play and doesn t seek revenge until the end, when Hamlet finally acts by his instincts, and kills his father s murderer. Hamlet is stopped in seeking revenge by a number of factors throughout the play. He needs to know if the ghost is telling the truth before he seeks revenge. He fears purgatory as told about the horrors of it by the ghost. He needs to get himself together before seeking revenge, and he procrastinates through discovering that revenge is easier said than done.
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder
When his father s ghost came to him and told him to avenge his murder, Hamlet was eager to take immediate action. However before seeking revenge he needs to know if the ghost is telling the truth about his murder. May sweep to my revenge. Hamlet feels that if the ghost isn t telling the truth and he acts, he too will become a murderer. Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all. In order to determine if Claudius is truly guilty, Hamlet produces a play in which the plot is parallel to King Hamlet s murder. Hamlet asks his good friend, Horatio, to watch Claudius reaction to the play and to determine whether Claudius is guilty or not. By Claudius reaction, Hamlet could come to the conclusion that the ghost was telling the truth and Claudius did murder his father. By the time the player s came to Elsinore, it s been a while since Hamlet promised the ghost that he would take revenge. However, finding out the ghost was telling the truth didn t make Hamlet seek immediate revenge. He had to overcome other factors stopping him from seeking revenge. Hamlet heard the horrors of purgatory from his father s ghost and he is worried that if he commits. Claudius murder, he will have to go through the terrors of purgatory. He wants Claudius to have to go through purgatory, so when he gets the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius, he can t. Hamlet assumes when Claudius is kneeling in prayer, that he is repenting his sins. Hamlet stops himself from approaching Claudius when he remembers that Claudius killed old hamlet without giving the king an opportunity to confess his sins. To assure revenge, Hamlet decides to wait until he can catch his uncle in sin and unprepared for death.
Throughout the play, Hamlet is shown to be unstable. His mind is full of thought of talking to his dead father, discovering incest, murder, and past adultery that he can t arrive at any logical resolution. He is unbalanced and cannot bring himself to act; he needs to get himself together first, before seeking revenge. Hamlet tells Horatio after he has been told about his father s murder, that he is going to put an antic disposition on to observe Claudius more easily behind the mask of madness. In this state, Hamlet gets wound up in grief that he really becomes emotionally disturbed and incapable of action. Hamlet is totally confused.
If hamlet killed Claudius, Gertrude would be alone, as she is married to him, it would affect her as well. Although he is angry with his mother, he also doesn t want her to be by herself. He believes his mother betrayed his father by marrying Claudius so soon after his father s death. Hamlet is disgusted with his mother and condemns her for her sine. He is grief stricken to realize that his mother has committed adultery and now sleeping in incestuous sheets . However, Hamlet shows a bond with his mother and when she dies, by being poisoned, Hamlet now finally can seek his revenge on Claudius which he has been trying to do since the beginning of the play. This shows that he loved his father even though he was angry with the things she was doing. Let the door be locked. Treachery. Seek it out.
Another reason Hamlet delays in seeking revenge is because he is too self absorbed. He talks about committing suicide, about how he feels, about what he thinks, and about how he feels towards his mother and Ophelia. He thinks about seeking revenge but takes a long time in seeking it. In some ways words serve as Hamlet s prison. He analyses and examines every part of his situation until he has exhausted every angle and causes him to be indecisive. In this way he procrastinates through words to realize that revenge is easier said than done.
As seen, in Hamlet, Hamlet promised to avenge his father s death, the mission of revenge is something he takes no pleasure in. At first he seemed almost anxious to kill his uncle, but as the play continued, he considers his task in more serious terms. Hamlet procrastinated through factors of not knowing if the ghost was telling the truth through his fear of purgatory, through his antic deposition , and through protecting his mother.
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Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s many tragedies. Common themes in these works by Shakespeare are murder and deceit. Hamlet is full of each. The protagonist of the play, Prince Hamlet, is a young man whose father was murdered two months before the beginning of the story. Early on in the play Hamlet is approached by the ghost of his father. He explains to Hamlet that his brother, Claudius, murdered him. Before he returns to purgatory, he asks that Hamlet take revenge on Claudius, who, since the murder has taken the Crown of Denmark and taken Hamlet’s mother as a wife.
Hamlet then makes a vow that he will avenge his father, but as the play progresses Hamlet passes up multiple opportunities to kill Claudius. This begs the question, Why does Hamlet delay? Hamlet delays avenging his fathers murder because he is waiting for the optimal moment to maximize the success of his revenge. After talking with his father’s ghost Hamlet could easily have grabbed a sword, approached Claudius and murdered him. Instead, Hamlet chooses to delay.
By choosing not to act rashly, Hamlet is able to take a step back from the situation and wait for a better opportunity, one that arises when a group of players come to entertain Hamlet. The actors quickly catch the eye of Hamlet and he gets an idea to use the players to get a read on his suspect. Hamlet asks the players to perform an act that roughly re-enacts how his father was murdered to try and force a reaction out of Claudius. When discussing this plan with his close friend, Horatio, Hamlet reveals the reason why he delayed his revenge.
He states, “If his occulted guilt/Do not itself unkennel in one speech/It is a damned ghost that we have seen” (III. II. 73-75). In these lines Hamlet reveals that he has delayed because there has been no proof that the ghost was actually his fathers ghost, and not just a “damned ghost” (one sent by the devil). In Elizabethan times ghosts were considered incredibly untrustworthy, “Society believed that spirits were either good or bad, and that good spirits visiting the earth no longer existed” (Cowling1). If Hamlet did not delay, then he could have murdered an innocent man and his attempt at revenge would have been an awful failure.
By formulating his plan with the players Hamlet ensures the validity of his revenge and avoids failing in the mission his father gave him. Hamlet’s delay ends up paying off. When the players are acting out the murder Claudius storms out of the theater looking incredibly distressed. After discussing the events with Horatio Hamlet concludes that Claudius truly murdered his father. He decides to seek out Claudius to finally avenge his father. When Hamlet finds him praying alone he pulls out his sword, ready to kill, but again he delays.
Hamlet says to himself, “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” (III. III. 86-90). If Hamlet chose to kill Claudius at that moment, while he was confessing his sins, then he would essentially do Claudius a service by giving him free passage to heaven. If he delayed however then he would be able to catch Claudius “When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage/Or in th’ incestuous pleasure of his bed/At a game swearing, or about some act/That has no relish of salvation in ‘t” (III.
III. 90-93). Hamlets Father had no chance to repent for his sins. Hamlet knows this and chooses to delay killing Claudius to wait for a more optimal moment where he can deal more damage to his opponent. Before Hamlet can rethink a new strategy, he is forced to ship off to England by his Mother and Claudius. Instead of being hasty and attempting to kill Claudius before he leaves, he decides delay and play along with his parent’s orders. Hamlet does leave for England but manages to return shortly after to deal with Claudius.
As Hamlet speaks with Horatio after returning he subtly explains his logic for playing along with Claudius and his attempt to ship him off. After explaining to Horatio how the time is so right for him to take revenge he states, “It will be short, the interims mine” (V. II. 77). Hamlet is saying to Horatio that the revenge is going to come shortly, and that he is going to take the time to prepare. If Hamlet were to have acted rashly and tried to kill Claudius in haste before sailing to England things could have ended poorly.
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He is aware that he should not rush things for fear of an unwelcome outcome so he delays until the appropriate moment, when the time is optimal. At the end of the play, Hamlet does end up exacting his revenge. The circumstances were not the best, as Hamlet and his mother die along with Claudius. Despite that, Hamlet fulfills his vow to avenge his father. Now was Hamlets delay right or wrong? That subject remains open to discussion but there is no doubt that Hamlet did delay in search of the optimal moment where his revenge would be most successful.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Why Did Hamlet Delay Killing the King?
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