You make decision everyday; whether it is choosing what you make for breakfast or choosing what you want to be when you grow up. It is natural in humans to make decisions and act on what they believe is to be true. This not only applies to humans, but authors use them in their books or plays to create different types of characters. In one of the greatest works by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there are characters that make many different kinds of decisions that determine their role in the book. In the play, the protagonist Hamlet, after his father’s death, is angry about his mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius. He sees a ghost of his father one night and tells him that Claudius had murdered him. Hamlet plans to kill Claudius but he has trouble making decisions and throughout the play, his poor decision making skills bring downfall to himself and many others. Every tragic hero has a tragic flaw and Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to make decisions. Hamlet’s inability to kill Claudius after hearing from the ghost, that he had killed Hamlet Senior, contributes to his stubborn indecisiveness, which brings about his own downfall. His indecisiveness leads to many character’s deaths; such as Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes, Polonius and his own mother. He had many chances of killing Claudius but he constantly over thinks the situation thus delaying his major task of killing Claudius: To take him in the purging of his soul
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed,
At game a-swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in ’t—
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven (III.III. 85)
This is an example of Hamlet being indecisive on whether or not to kill Claudius in the Church after the Mouse Trap play. He decides not to kill him there because he is praying and therefore will be forgiven for his sin. This results in delaying of his main task and also made more room for error; such as killing Polonius and also getting sent to England, which leads to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s deaths. If Hamlet would have decided to kill him then, he would not have created the mess he ends up making at the end. Hamlet’s inability to talk and discuss to Ophelia about what is happening, after she starts rejecting his messages, leads to losing his love and ultimately ends up to her demise. Even though they were in love, when Ophelia begins rejecting Hamlet’s messages because Polonius told her to, Hamlet tells Ophelia that she was not worth anything to him. This leads her to believing that Hamlet does not love her anymore. As a conclusion, she goes crazy and out of control; for example: By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie, for shame!
Young men will do ’t, if they come to ’t.
By Cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, “Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.
So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed. (IV. V. 40)
This is the scene where she has become insane. She sings about how a man promised her to marry her before they went into bed together but he left her. On top of Hamlet’s rejection, Hamlet has killed her father, Polonius, so she has completely lost control of herself. She sings a very sorrow song in front of many people and also gives out fake flowers to people. After this scene, she ends up committing suicide at the lake. If Hamlet had talked with Ophelia about what was going on and why she was ignoring her messages, she would have not become insane and Hamlet and Ophelia would still be in love.
Hamlet’s final flaw is his inability to decide whether life is worth living or not, which contributes to his stubborn indecisiveness, which ultimately leads to his own downfall. Hamlet is very confused about his own life and is out of his mind. He is very depressed from his father’s death and the feeling of betrayal he has from Gertrude, his mother, who remarried right after his father’s death. He does not know if life is worth living or not and this is obvious when he says: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. (III.I.56)
This is his famous soliloquy on the topic of life. He compares life and death and he cannot decide whether or not to stay alive or to be dead. He believes that death is the way to escape all his troubles and his depression but then on the other side, he knows he needs to complete the task of killing Claudius. His indecisiveness about his own life delays his action from doing what he really wants to accomplish. Even though Hamlet kills Claudius at the very end, as a result of his indecisive behavior, he has taken way too much time to accomplish one single task. Also, it killed many innocent people he could have prevented from killing them. If Hamlet would have not been so depressed and actually decide whether or not he should stay alive or die, he might have had a better chance accomplishing his tasks much faster and efficient.
Clearly, Hamlet is very indecisive all over and his indecisiveness brought about his own downfall. His mother’s death, his love’s death and his friend’s deaths are all caused by Hamlet. If he were to be decisive and straightforward, he could have killed Claudius much faster and he also could have prevented all of the deaths that happened. Many theories attempt to explain why Hamlet takes so long to kill Claudius but out of many theories, Hamlet’s indecisiveness is the only one with full satisfactory answers. Every book or play has a tragic hero and every tragic hero has a tragic flaw and in the play Hamlet, there is no exception. These themes present in many of William Shakespeare’s plays are relevant even today. There are times when we are indecisive when it comes to difficult situations. To be able to decide and to act on what you decided to do is what we try to aim for, however, since Hamlet did not complete this, he led himself to his own downfall and also many other’s to their downfall as well.