Hamlet - Hamlets Cowardness

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Hamlet: Coward

Many people proclaim Hamlet a hero, but I believe he stands as a coward who questions himself. Hamlet’s intellectual ability is superior to others, but there lies his weakness. His thinking in certain situations and personal needs characterize Hamlet as a coward of mind, not action. Hamlet is a coward because he is unable to make decisions.

To begin with, Hamlet’s first instance of showing a cowardly mindset is when he questions himself in his “Oh what a peasant slave am I” soliloquy, asking “Am I a coward (2.2, 526-584)?” Although it seems to be a very simple question, it has a very complicated answer. Hamlet is a coward because he berates himself afterward, saying “What an ass I am” and ironically proclaiming “I’m so damn brave (2.2, 560).” He knows that he has done nothing to avenge his father’s death, and he knows that all he is doing is standing around talking to himself. He intellectually battles himself on whether he is on the correct path to killing Claudius, and whether it will avenge his father and thus is unable to reach a decision in this soliloquy. Hamlet does not reach a decision because at the end he requires more evidence, which he will obtain during the play-within-a-play scene. By coming up with this idea, Hamlet again shows he is more of a coward because he postpones killing Claudius because he is mentally unsure of his guilt.

As the story progresses, Hamlet reaches a conclusion about cowardliness in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy when he says “conscience does make cowards of us all (3.1, 57-91).” This is with direct correlation to what he says after that, “the native hue…cast of thought” which means that the very ability of thought weakens the resolutions or boldness of a person’s ability to accomplish something, and thus it’s concluded that the conscience makes everyone a coward (3.1, 85-86). Although he has reached an answer about his cowardliness, it conflicts with is actions. An instance of Hamlet failing to...
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