• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why does Hamlet delay his revenge?

Extracts from this document...


Why does Hamlet delay his revenge? There have been many reasons put forth for Hamlet's apparent delay in seeking revenge. Many believe that Hamlet does not take immediate action because Hamlet's character is one of contemplation and melancholy; not action. Because of these traits, Hamlet needs evidence and assurance that Claudius really has killed Old Hamlet. Another argument is that subconsciously Hamlet may not want to kill Claudius because of the Oedipus complex. Others however have proposed a more practical explanation: Hamlet would like to make Claudius' death more painful and ruthless than Old Hamlet's. Shakespeare could have delayed Hamlet's revenge on purpose because by delaying the revenge, he is satisfying his Elizabethan audience and categorizing 'Hamlet' as a 'tragedy'. Similarly, Hamlet's delay could be seen as a flaw and like all tragic heroes Hamlet must have a fault in order to classify him as a 'tragic hero'. Hamlet's philosophical nature allows him to question the Ghost's existence and collect evidence before acting which delays Claudius' death. Hamlet's initial response is to trust the Ghost and act quickly when he says "Haste me to know't that I with wings as swift. May sweep to my revenge" in Act I scene vi. However by Act II scene ii he doubts the Ghost and thinks that "the spirit I may have seen may be a devil". ...read more.


As well we labeling 'Hamlet' as a revenge tragedy, by delaying the revenge we are slowly beginning to see another part of Hamlet submerge; and that is his role as the 'revenger'. When we first see Hamlet in Act I scene ii he is mourning over the death of his father. He is melancholic and yearns for revenge but is too passive. His main role as we can see from his soliloquies is 'malcontent'. His soliloquies show us his morally weak, dejected character for in Act III scene i Hamlet talks about suicide as an alternative to avenging his father. He thinks that "by a sleep we end the heartache". Previously Hamlet has mentioned to Gertrude and Claudius in Act I scene ii that the "Everlasting had not fix'd his canon 'gainst self-slaughter!". But as the play progresses we begin to see Hamlet change from a man of contemplation to a man of action. Therefore it is Shakespeare's intention that Hamlet delays as a part of his character and in order for him to find his role. A sign of Hamlet finding his 'active' role is when he says "I need to be my own person and find my own way. My way may be wrong, but at least it will be mine". ...read more.


A Hamlet of decisions, shrewdness and action. His plotting of the 'The Mousetrap' and his challenge to Laertes proves this. The consequence of Hamlet's set up of the play 'The Mousetrap' is the death of Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes and Hamlet himself. Shakespeare would like us to see that after Hamlet's role is no longer one of 'malcontent' but of 'revenge', the speed of the play begins to quicken. The change begins when Hamlet returns from England. The roles of other characters have also switched. Claudius has changed from a man of malevolence and confidence to one of fear for his life and Laertes has also switched to a man of revenge. All the characters, especially Hamlet have specific roles to fulfill which make up the play. Without each character carrying out their function and acting or reacting a certain way , perhaps Hamlet would not have taken so long to kill Claudius and maybe the play would have been only three acts instead of five. However all these reactions make up 'Hamlet' and therefore every action, response, excuse or delay serves their purpose to this tragic play. Furthermore I believe that Shakespeare has made his apparent delay obvious for us because it not only makes us concentrate more on Hamlet's transformation of character and role but also makes us more aware of the consequences of the 'revenge', whether it is the main theme or not, as a whole. Stephanie Ko, L6 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hamlet essays

  1. Why Does Hamlet Delay?

    The result is the profound melancholia - his total indifference to life, morbid speculations and suicidal thoughts - "O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter.

  2. Hamlets Doubts - helpful or harmful.modified.

    However, the key factor that helps to reject the demon theory is the fact that he doesn't want Hamlet to kill Gertrude; it shows that the Ghost's wishes "indicate not the pursuit of personal satisfaction" but instead true justice as he sees fit in his eyes.

  1. Mighty opposites; Hamlet and Claudius.

    their similarity and in that sense brings them closer together, arguably part of the drama of 'Hamlet' is the similarities of the two characters. Despite all Hamlet's and Claudius's similarities, they also have their differences. Claudius is driven by ambition, 'Help angels! Make assay', whereas Hamlet doesn't seem to be.

  2. Why does Hamlet delay his revenge?

    Hamlet is a 'renaissance man', he does not follow his base instincts but instead is a thinker. He is an educated man, as shown when he asks to be allowed to return to university at Wittenberg.

  1. Select two soliloquies from Hamlet and analyse their significance to the play as a ...

    This creates an almighty image of Hamlet's father, in the audience's minds, of him protecting his wife from anything that would hurt her in anyway. Shakespeare is using religious language regarding heaven to create images with the audience. Everything that Hamlet has said in this soliloquy regards only himself.

  2. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Hamlet, his moods and motivations, through his soliloquies in Act ...

    The audience will start to wonder that perhaps, if roles were reversed somehow, what they would do in his situation. I believe that it is this that makes Hamlet one of, if not the, most identified with character in English Literature.

  1. Is Hamlet a tragic hero, a weak revenger or a political misfit?

    He has either lost heart totally or he has realised that, in order to take any sort of revenge on his uncle, he might actually have to die himself. Strangely in keeping with this his giving up on life his highly self critical and analytical soliloquies stop during Act Five.

  2. What makes Hamlet a tragic figure? To what extent is he responsible for the ...

    First, Gertrude drinks from a cup that her own husband Claudius placed poison into with the intentions of offering to Hamlet in order to kill him. Next, Laertes stabs Hamlet with the point of the poisonous blade. Ironically, Hamlet and Laertes manage to switch swords and Hamlet reciprocates Laertes' act by stabbing him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work