Delay Hamlet

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HAMLET’S ADMIRABLE DELAY Student: Mara McCain Hamlet's inability to make the snap judgment necessary to kill Claudius has often been cited as the reason for the tragic end to the play. "Surely," most people will say, "if he had acted immediately then Act V wouldn't end in a pile of corpses." They ignore the fact that Hamlet's agonizing internal debate over the proper course of action is correct and necessary; his more than reasonable doubts as to the veracity of the Ghost, his distaste for acting through passion instead of reason, and the actions of chance and hostile parties, all combined with almost unbearable pressure to make the right choice leave him for most of the play apparently paralyzed. Hamlet is not the master of his own fate, able to choose his own destiny, and therefore is not the cause of the bloodbath of the final scenes. Hamlet is an intelligent, capable young man confronted with an enormous responsibility, conflicted with divided loyalties and told different versions of the same truth. While random events and his enemies conspire against him he is expected in some quarters to solve the crime, save the fair maiden, slay the dragon, and reduce the deficit, all with a snap of his fingers. It is the purpose of this essay to defend Hamlet's actions as his only rational choice, and to acquit him and his "indecision" of the full burden of blame. Hamlet’s internal debate is, to a great extent, a product of his character. Hamlet is the very heart and soul of honesty, rationality and fairness. He admires truth above all else. "I know not seems, (I, ii)" he says, and this affection for the truth alone informs all his decisions. He reviles himself for his inability to act immediately upon the Ghost's command, but he knows he cannot act hastily. Hamlet is aware, as was the Elizabethan audience, that ghosts are not necessarily forces of good, no matter what they look like. "The spirit I have seen may be a devil…(II,ii)" in disguise, luring him into murder and...
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