• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4

It could be said that Hamlet is not a play of inaction, but a play of providence and fate. Shakespeare seems to purposefully initiate action through inaction to show how certain events act as a catalyst for the eventful finale

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Hamlet is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind. How much is Hamlet a play of inaction? Some critics have stated that the appeal of Hamlet to the audience is his many human weaknesses, the most notable being his indecision. His deliberations and procrastinations are particularly high-lighted when he is faced with the task of revenge. The law and Christianity, around the early seventeenth century, were clear in condemning personal revenge as an attempt by man to arrogate the prerogatives of God. Hamlet's contradicting feelings toward avenging his father and avoiding breaking the law and going against Christianity were most likely felt by the Elizabethan audience also, which would have been made up of many Christians, namely, Protestants. Catherine Belsey stated: ...The act of vengeance, in excess of justice, a repudiation of conscience, hellish in its mode of operation, seems to the revenger (and the audience) an over-riding imperative. Not to act is to leave crime unpunished, murderer triumphant or tyranny in unfettered control.1 The well known critic, Nietzsche, states that Hamlet; Once looked truly into the essence of things and the resulting nausea has rendered him incapable of taking any action.2 The disturbing truth of Hamlet's, father's death outweighs any motive for action. ...read more.

Middle

Cicero in De Oratore stated: Wordplay tactlessly handled belonged to buffoons or pedantic scholars.7 Coleridge characterises Hamlet as a man unable to act through excessive thought. Bradley disagrees with Coleridge, and states that: The inaction is only a feature of Hamlet's character issuing out of the peculiar circumstances of the action of this play.8 It could be argued that Hamlet intends to mislead, and his ambiguous sayings are not down to Hamlet's indecision, or even sardonic humour, but a tactic to wrong foot others. There are many instances within the play when Hamlet does display an ability to make instantaneous decisions and immediate action. The irony in this, however, is that the times when Hamlet does not deliberate, act as a series of catalysts that lead to his demise. When Hamlet first encounters the ghost, he makes no hesitation in following it, even when Horatio and Marcellus warn Hamlet not to follow. Why, what should be the fear? I do not set my life at a pin's fee, And for my soul, what can it do to that.9 Hamlet states here that the ghost can not harm him physically, as he deems his life worthless anyway, and cannot harm his soul. ...read more.

Conclusion

The play seems to focus on the deliberations of the protagonist, and if Hamlet had more willingness to act, rather than think or talk, he may have prevented his own death. When Hamlet finally acts upon what he has been deliberating through the entire play, it is too late. Fortinbras, who is portrayed as noble, honourable and willing to take action has, arguably, the only fortunate outcome in Act V scene II. It is the only time Fortinbras does not have to take action to achieve his goal; rather, it seems every other characters action results in his inaction. 1 Belsey, Catherine. 'The subject of tragedy', London, 1985. 2 Nietzsche. 'A critique of Hamlet'. (quote taken from www.cosmos-club.org) 3 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act III scene III. 4 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act II scene II. 5 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act IV scene IV. 6 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act IV scene IV. 7 Cicero, De Oratore. (Quote taken from www.pages.unibas.ch) 8 Hazlitt, William. 'Characters of Shakespeare's plays'. 1838. 9 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act I scene IV. 10 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act III scene IV. 11 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act V scene II. 12 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act I scene II 13 Shakespeare, W. 'Hamlet', Act IV scene V. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katie Brown Page 1 02/05/2007 Katie Brown Page 2 02/05/2007 ...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. Peer reviewed

    The Play within the Play of Hamlet. To try and reveal his Uncle ...

    Coincidentally the same way Julius Caesar was killed. Hamlet did not feel guilt for killing Polonius even though he wished it was Claudius but just called Polonius a "wretched, rash, intruding fool" (3.4.33). The story of Julius Caesar could have also described Claudius's betrayal of his brother.

  2. Comparing Hamlet with Fortinbras

    Fortinbras, however, pursues his revenge by raising an army in secrecy to attack Denmark; this is quite an extreme reaction to the situation. Whilst at first Hamlet attempts to resolve his issues peacefully, showing himself as a thoughtful character, who prefers not to resort to violent methods.

  1. Mighty opposites; Hamlet and Claudius.

    Make assay', whereas Hamlet doesn't seem to be. Claudius makes sure he achieves what he wants, he chooses evil, 'the present death of Hamlet, do it England'. He has achieved the crown and he married Gertrude, after murdering King Hamlet. Hamlet can't make his mind up. Claudius is honest with himself whereas Hamlet seems much more confused in the play.

  2. Hamlet's strengths and weaknesses

    I think that even though it is frustrating at the time, Hamlet's tendency of dragging things out makes the play far more enjoyable and keeps your eyes glued to the pages. because you know that he will do something suddenly, you just don't know when.

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of scene 1 in Hamlet, as an opening to the play

    The effectiveness of the Ghost in the first scene is shown in the introduction of it "What, has this thing appeared again tonight?" which immediately lets the audience know that there is something odd happening. The description of the Ghost as a "thing" shows the fact that that it is an unknown creature and also creates a suspenseful atmosphere.

  2. Hamlet Act 3 scene 4

    see that he is unable to pray I would not have any sound effects as the church would echo and I would like the audience to focus on what the actors were saying. Also silence between lines tends to create a sense of atmosphere.

  1. How Does Shakespeare Convey a Sense of Anomie in Hamlet Act 1, and to ...

    Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy to create the feeling of suspense. Pathetic fallacy is a dramatic technique used to manipulate audience reaction, by using the environment to reflect the emotions of the characters, e.g, in Scooby doo, when they decide to stay in the old abandoned castle, it's inevitably thundering and raining.

  2. Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

    Laertes is talking down to Ophelia and making her feel small. As this is the first scene we meet Ophelia, Shakespeare has taken great care in making sure he paints the right picture of her. We see Ophelia as a well behaved, obedient woman who has always been overruled by men.

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