Hamlet's Delay

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Hamlet’s Delay

Throughout reading Hamlet by: William Shakespeare, there is an undying question at hand that has plagued the minds of many scholars. It is the question of what took Hamlet so long to carry out the orders of his father who contacted him from beyond the grave. Scholars such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, August Wilhelm Schlegel, and Hermann Ulrici give their perspective on the internal obstacles Hamlet faced. In contrast to those obstacles, scholars such as J.L Klein, Karl Werder, and Oscar J. Campbell explore the external obstacles that hindered Hamlet from carrying out the orders of his late father. Robert Reed then gives his interpretation on both the external and internal obstacles in hopes to find a common ground in figuring out the true reason behind the delay of Hamlet.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is a critic who explored the internal obstacles that led to Hamlet’s delay. It is his belief that the cause of this delay was due to Hamlet being weak willed. According to Goethe, He (Hamlet) is called upon to do what is impossible, not impossible in itself, but impossible to him. And as he turns and winds and torments himself, still advancing and retreating, ever reminded and remembering his purpose, he almost loses sight of it completely, without recovering his happiness. (Goethe 91) By saying this Goethe is further explaining that despite having a clear and concise goal set in front of him, Hamlet is unable to perform due to his own torments and lacking of gull. Due to these reasons, Hamlet constantly torments himself which distracts him even further from the original goal at hand. This is also shown in one of Hamlet’s soliloquies where Hamlet says, “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that I ever I was born to set it right (1.5.188-189). Hamlet curses himself throughout the play constantly for his lack of courage and even having the burden to “set things right”. It is almost as if Hamlet resents his father for leading him down such a...
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