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Why does Hamlet delay his revenge?

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Introduction

Why does Hamlet delay his revenge? The play Hamlet centres around the delay made by the central character in taking his revenge. Without this delay Shakespeare would simply not have had a play to write and Hamlet would not exist. It is therefore important that we understand the reasons why Hamlet did delay his revenge. These reasons do vary greatly but many centre around Hamlet's character as that of a thinker. Hamlet's reasons for delay differ from his own fear of death, and damnation due to his insecurity as to where the ghost has come from, to the theory of the Oedipus complex. Many of these reasons focus on the religious and is therefore representative of the period and the way in which the audience would be wrestling with two desires. To follow the basic need for revenge and the desire to follow the Church's teachings. Shakespeare's Hamlet is a typical revenge tragedy, involving the murder of a close relation, in this case Hamlet's own father, by a person who is considered to be out of the reach of common justice. In Hamlet the murderer is Hamlet's uncle, who is now the King of Denmark. The play centres on the difficulties that Hamlet faces as the avenger. Hamlet fulfils many of the conventions of a revenge tragedy. The victim is a close relation of Hamlet, the perpetrator is apparently 'untouchable' and the act of revenge finally results in the death of the hero: Hamlet. ...read more.

Middle

the case it "abuses [him] to damn [him]" It is for this reason that Hamlet re-enacts the murder of his father with his uncle in the audience. Hamlet wishes to ensure that the ghost has been telling the truth. Hamlet's delay in his revenge so as to establish this would have been understood by the audience. The audience empathise with Hamlet and appreciate his caution. However, even once Hamlet has established Claudius' guilt he still delays. One reason that is suggested for this is the Oedipus complex. That Hamlet has had a long repressed desire to replace his father in his mother's life. The fact that Claudius has taken this place, having murdered Hamlet's father and is now in an incestuous relationship with his sister-in-law results in Hamlet jealously of his uncle. But Hamlet, it is suggested, does not act because he realises subconsciously that his uncle has done what he wanted to do and therefore cannot completely condemn Claudius without also condemning himself. However, there is no definitive proof of this theory in the text and comes from conjecture only. A main problem for Hamlet in his inability to act is his own self-loathing, revealed in his soliloquies, Hamlet realises that he has every motivation for revenge; his father's murder, Claudius' incestuous relationship with his mother, Claudius taking power from Hamlet, and the corruption resulting from Claudius' reign. ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience also has this problem, and by having a more complex character for Hamlet the audience can empathise more with the problems he faces. In contrast to the source material in which Amleth plans his revenge, and prepares for this by shaping hooked sticks to be used as javelins, Hamlet makes no such preparations and his revenge comes about almost by accident. Amleth unlike Hamlet has no qualms about taking his revenge. It is only when Hamlet realises that his mother has been killed and that he is also about to die that Hamlet finally acts. It therefore appears that it is not the revenge for his father that prompts Hamlet to act but for his mother. There is no mention of Hamlet's father when he kills Claudius, Hamlet simply says, "Follow my mother". Therefore it could be suggested the only reason Hamlet finally killed Claudius was out of revenge for his mother's death rather out of obligation to his father. Therefore, the reason for Hamlet's delay centres around a number of factors, mainly linking to the fact that Hamlet is a thinker, a Renaissance man. It is because of this that Hamlet recognises the need to establish the origins of the ghost, the fact that he may be damned by taking his revenge, and the need to ensure that Claudius does not receive salvation. It is only when Hamlet has realised that he has nothing to fear from death and is dying himself, having watched his mother die that Hamlet's revenge takes place. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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