Hamlet: Tragedy of Failure
William Shakespeare's, Hamlet is a tragedy of failure, the failure of a man placed in circumstances and faced to deal with them successfully. In some ways, Hamlet reminds us of Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Hamlet and Brutus are both good men who live in trying times; both are intellectual, even philosophical; both men want to do the right thing; both men intellectualize over what the right thing is; neither man yields to passion. But here the comparison ends, for though both Brutus and Hamlet reflect at length over the need to act, Brutus is able immediately to act while Hamlet is not. Hamlet is stuck thinking too precisely on th' event-. Hamlet's father, the king of Denmark, has died suddenly. The dead king's brother,Claudius, marries Hamlet's mother and swiftly assumes the throne, a throne that Hamlet fully expected would be his upon the death of his father. Hamlet's father's ghost confronts Hamlet and tells him that his death was not natural, as reported, but instead was murder. Hamlet swears revenge. But rather than swoop instantly to that revenge, Hamlet pretends to be insane in order to mask an investigation of the accusation brought by his father's ghost. Why Hamlet puts on this antic disposition and delays in killing Claudius is the central question of the play. But Hamlet did not swear to his dead father that he, detective-like, would investigate. Hamlet swore revenge. And he has more than enough motivation to exact revenge. Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon- He that hath killed my king, and whored my mother; Popped in between th' election and my hopes, Thrown out his angle for my proper life, And with such cozenage-is't not perfect conscience To quit him with this arm? And is't not to be damned To let this canker of our nature come In further evil? (Act 5, scene 2 . . . to Horatio) Yet he delays. It is this delay in performing the act he has sworn to...
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