Hamlet's Delay in Hamlet by Shakespeare


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In Act I scene V, Hamlet is told by his father’s ghost to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” The ghost then goes on to tell Hamlet that as he was “sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me” and that “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.” Hamlet is told by the ghost to seek revenge, telling him that Claudius has corrupted Denmark and corrupted Gertrude, having seduced her in the foul lust of their incestuous marriage. The ghost urges Hamlet not to act against his mother in any way, telling him to “Leave her to heaven, And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, To prick and sting her.”
Hamlet delayed in seeking revenge for his father because he wanted to be absolutely sure that Claudius did indeed kill his father. Hamlet was also seeking authenticity of the information the ghost gave him, and had to find out for himself if it was true. Thus Hamlet set up “The Mousetrap.” Hamlet was behaving similarly to the way teenagers act today. His father told him something that was true, but Hamlet couldn’t just act without proving the truth to himself, and then acting on his own terms, not those of his father.
Hamlet's delay came from a conflict between action and awareness that made him see both sides of every issue. Hamlet realized that to avenge his father’s death, he must kill Claudius, but at the same time he knew that there would be consequences for this action. For example, in Act III, scene III, Hamlet had the opportunity to kill Claudius, but he believed that Claudius was praying. If Hamlet had killed Claudius when he was praying for forgiveness, Hamlet believed Claudius would have gone to heaven. Thinking this, Hamlet decided to wait until the king was doing something bad, so that Claudius would go to hell.
In my opinion, Hamlet’s procrastination led to his downfall and death, as well as the deaths of many others.

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If Hamlet had believed his father’s ghost when he told him that Claudius had murdered him and acted on his revenge immediately, Hamlet would have been able to catch Claudius off guard. If Hamlet had done so, he would have had the ability to prevent all of the other needless deaths. In conclusion, the word of his father’s ghost should have been enough for Hamlet to act and carry out the revenge for his father.


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