Turning Points in Hamlet

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There are three possible turning points in Hamlet: the players' scene when Claudius' guilt concerning the murder of King Hamlet is confirmed; the prayer scene when Hamlet forgoes the opportunity to kill Claudius; and the closet scene where Hamlet first takes action, but kills Polonius inadvertently. In the players' scene, the ghost's story is proved to be true, allowing Hamlet to avenge his father's murder. In the prayer scene, Hamlet misses a perfect opportunity to kill Claudius, giving Claudius time to act against Hamlet. In the closet scene, Hamlet's actions give Claudius the impression that he poses as a major threat to his continued succession on the throne. The death of Polonius also triggers a series of repercussions by altering the characters' mindsets.

In the players' scene, Hamlet revises the play of The Murder of Gonzago, adding in a scene that hints at the murder of King Hamlet. When Claudius reacts to Hamlet's trap and makes a sudden exit, Hamlet now knows that the ghost's story is true and will "take the ghost's word for a thousand pound." He now has no reason not to act. Prior to witnessing Claudius' reaction, Hamlet has been debating with himself over the legitimacy of the ghost and its story. He has been questioning himself and whether he is a coward, because all he has done is talk, not having taken any action. Now that Hamlet knows the murderous sin Claudius has committed, Hamlet feels no guilt in avenging his father's death. The plot takes a turn, as Hamlet becomes more of a man of action than a philosopher.

In the prayer scene, Hamlet misses his best opportunity to kill Claudius and avenge his father's death. With no guards around, Claudius is alone and he is unaware that Hamlet is lurking in the shadows. The scene is set for Hamlet to take vengeance for his father's unsettled spirit. However, Hamlet does not kill him, because Claudius is repenting for his sins, allowing him to go to heaven when he is to die. As one's religion often...
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