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Hamlet's Procrastination : a Study on his Failure to Act

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Introduction

´╗┐Hamlet?s Procrastination: a Study on his Failure to Act Joseph Busat ENG4U Mrs. Dickson Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School Monday, November 7th , 2011 Hamlet is a play written by William Shakespeare, between the years of 1599 and 1601, under the reign of King James I. The play, set in the kingdom of Denmark, recounts the tragic tale of how Prince Hamlet enacts revenge on his Uncle Claudius, for murdering his father, (King Hamlet), marrying Gertrude, (his widowed mother, King Hamlet?s wife), and succeeding to heir of the throne. The tragic flaw, (Hamartia), of the protagonist Hamlet, is arguably his procrastination in the enactment of his revenge. Throughout the play, Hamlet had many opportunities to avenge his father?s death by murdering Claudius; however, there was always seemed to be something restricting him. There are many reasons as to why Hamlet may have delayed the revenge: be it the fact that Hamlet feared the consequence of killing, maybe he doubted the ghost, it could be that Hamlet didn?t want to hurt his mother, or maybe even the fact that he was a renaissance Prince, and didn?t believe in violence. ...read more.

Middle

If Claudius would become hesitant, Hamlet would then know, the ghost spoke the truth: ?I'll have grounds / more relative than this - the play's the thing / wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king" (Shakespeare 2.2). Horatio observed that Claudius did react hesitantly, and therefore, Hamlet now knew that Claudius was guilty. Hamlet was quite religious. This is seen in the prayer scene: ?Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; /And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven; / And so am I revenged. That would be scann'd: / A villain kills my father; and for that, / I, his sole son, do this same villain send / To heaven.? (Shakespeare 3.3.77-82). This quote explains to the audience that Hamlet is very religious; he fears the result of killing. If he was to kill Claudius while Claudius himself was praying, Claudius would have been sent to heaven, (as his soul was cleansed), and Hamlet would have been forced to suffer the sin of killing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Most scholars tend to agree with the fact that the, ?Oedipus Complex,? seems to be most logical in the explanation of his procrastination; still, some critics believe that Hamlet simply thinks too much. He wants the murder of the King to be perfect. Claudius has to go to hell. The people have to know about the murderer Claudius. Hamlet spends too much time planning and not enough time doing; thus, making the King's murder more complicated than other murders he has orchestrated. This procrastination is ultimately responsible for the deaths of most major characters, and the entire outcome of the play. Had Hamlet enacted his revenge at the beginning of the play, the play as a whole would have been un-existent. Not until everybody is dying, including himself, does he realize that he should not have waited so long. He understands the consequences of his delay, and all of his pent-up rage explodes, and he murders the King; getting the revenge he was after from the beginning. It seems at this point, however, that it is no revenge at all, but simply the last tragic mistake of lifeless indecision. ...read more.

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