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Why does Hamlet delay in the revenge of his father's death?

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Nazira Begum 11QCO Question: Why does Hamlet delay in the revenge of his father's death? 'Hamlet' written by William Shakespeare very closely follows the dramatic conventions of a revenge tragedy. Seneca a playwright from Rome, who was a very influential playwright, was the pioneer of revenge tragedies. He established the norms for all revenge playwrights in the Renaissance era including William Shakespeare. During the Renaissance and Jacobean period revenge tragedies were very popular, and 'Hamlet' was a famous Shakespearean revenge tragedy. There are certain conventions of revenge tragedy, for instance the central figure dies in the end of the play, he faces an internal moral dilemma and he avenges the death of a close family member. 'Hamlet' incorporates all these conventions in one-way or another, which truly makes 'Hamlet' a typical revenge tragedy. Shakespeare's Hamlet is one of many heroes of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period who finds himself grievously wronged by a powerful figure, with no recourse to the law, and with a crime against his family to avenge. Although this is a revenge play, Hamlet continually delays acting, out of a sense of duty of avenging his father's murder. I am going to explore the reasons why Hamlet delays his father's death. There are so many theories that have been developed, why Hamlet delays in avenging his father's death. ...read more.


The King was appointed by God, for Hamlet to kill the King was like killing God. They believed that the King had devine existence. During the Elizabethan era, the general believe that the King had sovereign power and divine right was extensive. Hamlet believed in God, and he thought the ghost could not be real, the ghost could be a devil, and Hamlet cannot kill the King, who is appointed by God. It was hard to believe that the King was doing something deficient. "I hold my duty as I hold my soul,/ Both to my God and to my gracious King;" (i, ii, 44-45). This exhibits that people take the King as a God. Hamlet wanted more substantiation before taking a reaction. If Hamlet had killed King Claudius at the starting of the play, the King would have been considered a martyr. This would have been a murder and he would be punished. Throughout the play Hamlet is almost in a delirious state of mind. All the characters think he has gone mad. Polonius says, " I will be brief. Your noble son is mad" (ii,ii, 92). The Queen thinks that he is getting mad because of his father's death and her getting married to Claudius. The Queen says, " I doubt it is no other but the main,/ His father's death and our o'er-hasty marriage" (ii,ii,56-57). ...read more.


This fact is important, as Hamlet is a very idealistic and moralistic person. Ecclesiastical law, but the duty of personal honour prevalent in Elizabethan times prohibited revenge. Hamlet wants to break the cycle of medieval society, of killing others to revenge a relative's death. In the medieval society killing a person was accepted, that's if they went in defiance of wrong. Hamlet is having serious doubts about killing the King. After all, to kill an anointed King, even in an act of revenge, was considered as a serious offence. In addition, in regards to his mother's sin, the ghost had told Hamlet to "Leave her to heaven,/ And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge/ to pick and sting her." This creates a moral dilemma for Hamlet because it is God's duty to deal with his mother's sin; surely the same applies to Claudius. In conclusion, Hamlet delays in killing the King because of his own character; he is a philosopher, procrastinator and is of a melancholic disposition. External events in the play do not contribute to Hamlet's delay, but are rather used to Hamlet's advantage as excuses to further delay of avenging his father's murder. Hamlet constantly delays his revenge and always finds a way to put off until he finally commits the murder in Act V, scene 2, which also causes other characters death, in addition to his own. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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