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Why does Hamlet delay in avenging his father's death?

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Why does Hamlet delay in avenging his father's death? George Harisis. The tragic play 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare, tells the story of the enigmatic Prince Hamlet who is set the task of avenging the murder of his father at the hand of his uncle, King Claudius. Though it is clear that Hamlet harbours deep resentment towards his uncle and is eventually certain of his mission, Hamlet is seen to consistently delay in completing his task for various reasons. Whether it is because Hamlet is a fundamentally pensive character who always thinks before he acts or because he is crippled by his intelligence and moral scruples, it can be argued that Hamlet's prolonged tarry results in his eventual destruction. Near the beginning of the play, Hamlet is confronted by an apparition who claims to be the ghost of his dead father, the old King. The sprit explains the details by which Claudius murdered him and how it is now in purgatory until its death is avenged and old Hamlet's honour is restored. ...read more.


Upon finding Claudius alone at prayer one night, he is presented with the perfect opportunity to avenge his father's death. However, because of his Christian beliefs, he reasons that should he kill him in a state of grace, he would sanctify Claudius and clear him a path to heaven. Thus Hamlet sheaths his sword and decides to wait for a moment where he can kill Claudius in an act of sin and hence condemn his soul to an eternity of suffering. Although Hamlet does allow an opportune moment to kill his uncle pass, it is in his own mind justified as he wishes that Claudius be made to suffer in the afterlife just as his father has. Hamlet is a philosopher who is crippled by his intelligence and paralysed by his grief. He is consistently observed to over rationalize situations and ponder about philosophical facts that are irrelevant to his goal. ...read more.


The figure finally reveals itself to be Polonius, the King's counsellor. Having killed a foolish yet innocent man, Hamlet shows no signs of remorse and returns to his preoccupation with his mother. On another such occasion, Hamlet is being escorted to England on a ship by two of his old friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Unbeknownst to them they carry instruction from the King that order Hamlet's immediate executions upon arrival to England. Having discovered these orders shortly before being rescued by a pirate vessel, Hamlet secretly modifies them to read that his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern be executed. This puzzling behaviour highlights Hamlet's complexities and demonstrates that although he does delay in his task, he is not always indecisive and contemplative in his nature. Although Prince Hamlet's intentions are just and honourable, his fundamentally introspective demeanour results in his long delay in avenging his father's death. His grief, distraction by philosophical ideas and his over rationalization of his thought process lead to his prolonged procrastination and his eventual demise. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

*** 3 STARS

This is a well written essay which clearly shows a knowledge and understanding of the play and remains focused on the question throughout.
However the writer needs to PEA (Point, Evidence, Analysis) - far more quotes are needed throughout and the language needs to be more closely analysed before this essay will be awarded a higher grade.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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