Timing Is Everything

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Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a well-known revenge tragedy of the Elizabethan era. It follows one young prince's pursuit of revenge against his murderous, incestuous uncle, King Claudius. After being visited by his father's spirit, he learns that his uncle, who is now married to his mother, murdered his father. This occurs shortly after the marriage of Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, and Uncle Claudius, making Claudius the Danish King. Learning of his father's murder – and still grieving over Gertrude's quick-willingness to marry after his father's death – Hamlet formulates a plan to seek his revenge. Hamlet's tragedy is his delay in killing Claudius for it leads to the death of his friends, his family, and ultimately, himself.

Hamlet's hesitant planning results in the loss of many of his friends: Polonius, Laertes, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and, most notably, Ophelia, the love interest. Many of these characters fall to Hamlet's own hand. Hamlet's delay caused all of these people to fall like dominoes, death leading to death, leading to more death. Once Polonius falls to Hamlet's zeal, Ophelia goes mad and commits suicide, "[falling] in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide / And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up; / which time she chanted snatches of old tunes, / As one incapable of her own distress, / Or like a creature native and indued / Unto that element; but long it could not be / Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, / pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay / to muddy death" (IV, vii, 177-184). She eventually drowns herself in the river, as her brother, Laertes, returns to avenge his father's murder and lackluster burial ceremony. Then, for working with his Uncle, Hamlet has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern beheaded, sending the tainted message stating: "Without debatement further, more or less, / He should the bearers put to sudden death, / not shriving time allowed" (V, ii, 45-47). Finally, Laertes loses life in...
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