Hamlet Research Paper: Why Hamlet Cannot Act

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Why Hamlet Cannot Act After reading Shakespeare 's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, one comes to the conclusion that Prince Hamlet is defined by his indecision. This indecision has a dire consequence, namely the inability to act, which ultimately leads to his death and the deaths of most of the other characters by the play’s end, thus becoming Prince Hamlet’s tragic flaw. Due to his tendency to over think, over analyze, procrastinate, and stagnate in deliberation, the majority of the play focuses not on the actual act of revenge, but on all the delays in the events leading up to it. For instance, at first Hamlet is incensed to kill King Claudius after his father’s ghost informs him of the King’s treachery, but then he comes to doubt the ghost’s integrity and thinks perhaps it is actually an apparition of the Devil. This leads him to concoct an entire plan in which he writes a scene in a play depicting similar treachery and plans for Claudius to watch it in order to gauge his reaction. He has Claudius watched, successfully gets the reaction he wants, yet he still does not kill him when he has the chance, coming up with another rationalization. Every time Hamlet has an opportunity to act, he counteracts it with a doubt or a reason for inaction. He spends too much time planning and not enough time doing. By that time, Claudius, a man of action, becomes suspicious. Hamlet spends too much time thinking of what to do or what not to do, while King Claudius makes a plan and executes it. Because of this, Hamlet and seven others are dead by the end of Act V. But why is it that Hamlet cannot resolve to undertake anything without becoming paralyzed with hesitation? While Prince Hamlet’s flaws, internal conflicts, melancholy, and pretended madness were all contributing factors, his inability to act and his indecisiveness, which ultimately played the key role in his tragic downfall, can both be traced to a combination of internal and external factors. Some critics argue that


Cited: Brandes, Georg. "The Psychology of Hamlet." William Shakespeare: A Critical Study. London: William Heinemann, 1911. 307-72. Print. Coleridge, Samuel L. “The Character of Hamlet” Shakespearean Criticism. Vol. 2. Boston: Harvard UP, 1930. 19-37. Print. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Wilhelm Meister 's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) (1795-96; Eric Blackall (transl.), Princeton UP, 1995) Goldstein, Philip. "Hamlet: Not a World of His Own." Shakespeare Studies; 1980, Vol. 13, p71, 13p. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Wed. 6 Mar. 2013. Jones, Ernest. "The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of Hamlet 's Mystery: A Study in Motive." The American Journal of Psychology 21.1 (January, 1910): 72-113. Levin, Harry. "General Introduction." Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton Mifflin: n.p., 1974. 1-9. Print. Nevo, Ruth. "Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging." William Shakespeare 's Hamlet. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 45-64. Print. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Wood, William Dyson. Hamlet: From a Psychological Point of View. New York: AMS, 1972. Print.

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