Shakespeare's Hamlet is truly a great play to analyze. It is also unique in that a play based on revenge we don't see any action until the end. Hamlet has immediate suspicion and proof of his fathers murder and does not act. This poses the question, why does it take so long for Hamlet to kill Claudius? Hamlet's apparent indecisiveness to act is due to his constant habit of over thinking in addition to several conscious and subconscious distractions.
Immediately following Hamlet's conversation with the Ghost, he is determined to fulfill the Ghost's wishes. However, the next time he appears in the play, which is long after the Ghost's visit, he has not yet done the deed. He is plagued by questions of death and the supernatural. What do we know about ghosts? Does the ghost know how he died, or is he deluded? Is the ghost his ally or is he trying to mislead him to his demise? "The spirit that I have seen / May be a devil, and the devil hath power / T' assume a pleasing shape" (2, 2, 627-629).
The largest key to Hamlet's hesitation to take action was his need to find definitive evidence of Claudius's guilt and expose him for what he did. Hamlet continuously doubted himself and whether or not the action that he wanted to take was justifiable. It is not until act three until Hamlet is able to prove that Claudius is guilty. However, while his guilt is obvious to him he is unable to present anything to the people. He wants the murder of the King to be perfect. Claudius has to go to hell. The people have to know about the murderer Claudius. Hamlet spent too much time planning and not enough acting, thus making the King's murder more complicated than it needed to be. After the play Hamlet has the proof he was seeking and still cannot act.
It is also worth examining Hamlet's relationship to Gertrude. Hamlet's hesitation to kill his uncle may be an unconscious fear relating to the Oedipus complex. Because of his close relationship with his mother, which...
Cited: Mabillard, Amanda. Hamlet Character Analysis. 18 May 17, 2005.
Phillips, Brian. SparkNotes on Hamlet. 18 May 2005.
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