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To what extent is Act 3 in Hamlet a turning point?

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To what extent is Act 3 a turning point in Hamlet? "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare is a famous play that focuses on the nature of the protagonists procrastination, and the consequential torment he faces after his dead father returns as a ghost, begging him to revenge his murderer, his uncle Claudius. Hamlet, the protagonist, who, whilst trying to act honourably, is lost as to what should be done in regard to the ghosts commands, and tormented by his own lack of action. However, it is possible for Act 3, in which Hamlet puts on the Player's play and kills Polonius, to be seen as the point when Hamlet makes a decisive choice to stop procrastinating, and take action against Claudius. This judgment could be made for a variety of reasons; because of the cruelty Hamlet shows in this Act that he had not previously done, because of the murder of Polonius and because of the definitive proof that Claudius killed Hamlet's father. Contrastingly, it could be said that Act 3 is not actually a turning point because Claudius has not been killed, and Hamlet's procrastination further carries on. The cruelty that Hamlet shows towards Ophelia in Act 3 has not been seen before, and indicates to the audience that Hamlet has experienced a leap of realisation. ...read more.


Although before Hamlet has always been able to access the "get out clause", not killing Claudius because of being unsure of his guilt, here we are essentially given proof twice; once during the Player's play, when he reacts to it by running away from the castle hall doubling as a theatre, and also when we see him praying, saying "O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't- a brother's murder". This is the point where the audience is finally made fully aware of the revenge genre of the play, and that it is going to end nastily. As is mentioned before, we see Hamlet in a more aggressive, nasty light in Act 3. In scene 3, he sees Claudius praying and realises that he can easily kill him then, drawing his sword, he says "Now might I do it pat, now a is a-praying. And now I'll do't". He then describes his prospective murder of Claudius as "hire and salary, not revenge", in a clinical fashion unlike the Hamlet of previous times. However, he then decides "And am I then reveng'd... At game a-swearing, or about some act That has no relish of salvation in't", thinking that he must kill Claudius at ...read more.


Here he acknowledges his weakness of considering his revenge too much, the problem which will plague him later on in the Act when he fails to kill Claudius despite the prime opportunity to do so. This leads the audience to believe that Hamlet has not change and the play will continue in the same vein, with Act 3 not being the turning point. In conclusion, I do not think that Act 3 is conclusively the turning point in the novel. It is not until his return from England that we see a definitive change in Hamlet's procrastination and his determination to kill Claudius. Polonius being behind the arras exposes the fallusy of revenge, as Hamlet is now guilty of the crime he is meant to be revenging. Although I think it is not irrefutably possible to look upon Act 3 as a turning point, there are several factors within it that may point to that conclusion; the definitive proof that Claudius murdered Hamlet's father, an actual death on stage within the play. It is possible to observe the death of Polonius as 'the beginning of the end', and from that point of view it could be observed that Act 3 is when, most notably, there is a change within the play Page ...read more.

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