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Why does Hamlet delay?

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Zoya Kidwai Why does Hamlet delay? Hamlet is given a duty to avenge his father's "foul and most unnatural murder," by killing Claudius, Hamlet's uncle. After the ghost of Hamlet's father reveals the truth about his death, Hamlet is most passionate to fulfill his father's request. However, for some reason Hamlet's determination does not last as he procrastinates, delaying the time it takes to kill Claudius. There are various, underlying reasons for Hamlet's delay and the reason for it is what the play's plot revolves around. Hamlet is acutely aware of the fact that he is delaying killing Claudius, but like the audience, he is also unaware of why. His realization of the delay is first shown in his soliloquy in which he chides himself for being "unpreganant" of his cause. He wishes that he can be like the "players" who are able to "force their soul to their own conceit." From now on, he realises that action needs to be taken, however, his delay still continues until the end of the play. Hamlet is not sure of the true identity of the ghost. ...read more.


This however can be contrasted as the audience is shown that Hamlet still has a sharp mind, able to conjure up quickly conjure up plans and put them into action. For example, Hamlet is uncertain about the ghost's words and therefore he tries to find evidence for himself to make sure that Claudius is actually his father's killer. This is one of the main causes for delay in the play. To confirm his suspicions Hamlet cleverly arranges a play scene to "catch the conscience of the king" by observing his reactions to the play. Claudius does act, showing unease as Hamlet expected which gave Hamlet the proof that he was looking for, but nevertheless, he remains "unpregnant of his cause." Furthermore, Hamlet acts swiftly and cunningly arranges through a written letter to have Rozencrantz and Guildenstern killed. This makes the audience aware that Hamlet is in a fit enough state of mind to take any action as his mind and intellect are sharp however, he still delays. Hamlet realises that he is procrastinating, and criticizes himself, calling him a "muddy-mettled rascal" which shows that he is aware of his "blunted" determination and his lack of clarity about the situation. ...read more.


The fact that Claudius is praying asking for repentance verifies that he is guilty of Old Hamlet's murder however Hamlet does not take this chance as he thinks that by taking revenge now the "villain" will be "sent to heaven." Hamlet refuses to kill Claudius at this moment as he feels it is "base and silly, not revenge." He hopes to find yet another opportunity when Claudius is "heavy with" sin which further leads to his delay. In the final scene of the play, Hamlet takes the revenge that he had been so greatly delaying. However, the reason for his killing Claudius in not reflected because of Hamlet wanting to avenge his father's death but instead because of his pent up rage, emotion and his mother's poising. These are the factors which play as a catalyst to Claudius' foreseeable death. Through the play, one can see that there is no real reason or excuse for the delay of Claudius' murder. Even though Hamlet is faced with unfortunate circumstances, we can see through various examples in the play that he is fully capable to have carried out this act of revenge much earlier in the play. There are many obstacles that Hamlet creates for himself, which prevents him from taking action consequently delaying Claudius' inevitable end. ...read more.

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