Why Stall? an Analysis of Hamlet's Delay

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Hamlet sees his life as a prison, because his world is a prison of expectation. People, such as his father, expect much from Hamlet; however, Hamlet expects much from himself. This two sided demand for duty from his father and himself gives Hamlet no chance for escape, confining him and giving him much anxiety, especially since his own expectations both are in favor of and against his father's. The duty Hamlet must complete confines him in the way of a prison, because his own expectations and character force him to overcome a difficult choice before acting on the duty he has for his father.

This conflict of expectations stalls Hamlet by compelling him to question the consequences of his options and his loyalty to his father. When King Hamlet's ghost orders Hamlet to avenge his death as expediently as possible, Hamlet desires to enact this order, yet after much thought he halts his actions thinking about the consequences if the ghost actually was not his father. Like all Elizabethans, Hamlet believes that the apparition could mean several things: it could be the actual spirit of his dead father, it could be an illusion, or it could be the devil in disguise. If the apparition is the spirit of King Hamlet, Hamlet knows that his accusation of Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, is true, and Hamlet must honor his vow of vengeance taking Claudius's life. However if the apparition is not his father's spirit but an illusion or the devil in disguise, enacting his vengeance would lead Hamlet to Hell. He does not know for sure that Claudius killed his father, and if the ghost is just an illusion or the devil he would be killing an innocent man and possibly giving in to the temptation of the Devil. Hamlet is very proud of his father and deep down desires to avenge his death, if it was anything more than an accident, yet he expects himself not to give into insanity or the devil.

This expectation of himself compels Hamlet to question the validity of the explanation the ghost gave...
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