Dealing With Dilemmas Essay

1128 words - 5 pages

Dilemmas are inevitable; one deals with them everyday. Some are miniscule and insignificant while others can be mountainous and life-changing. However, whatever the nature of the predicament, the individual faced with it will always find himself inescapably caught in a circumstance of conflict. The different approaches one can take to resolve this conflict will ultimately determine the direction one’s life will take. Occasionally, these results can even affect the lives of the people around oneself. Though nothing is set in stone, certain procedures tend to reap better outcomes than others. In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare develops the idea that when faced with a dilemma, one can be overly contemplative, rash, or rational, with each method of resolution leading to drastically different results.
When presented with a crisis, one can be overly analytic about the different alternatives offered, which often leads to disastrous results. Hamlet’s father’s ghost appears to him and adjures him to take on the burdensome task of avenging his abhorrent murder by his brother, King Claudius – a challenge in which Hamlet readily accepts. He starts to feign madness after his encounter with the ghost, which is all part of his scheme to not arouse Claudius’ suspicions by appearing harmless, and not posing as a threat. However, as the play progresses, Hamlet finds it increasingly more difficult to implement such an arduous act. Months after the meeting with the ghost, he still cannot carry out his vengeance as he is bedevilled by doubt, admitting that “conscience does make cowards of us all” (III, i, 84). He goes to such great lengths that he conceives a “mouse-trap play” where he asks a group of actors to re-enact the murder of King Hamlet in order to “catch the conscience of [his] [uncle]” (II, ii, 603). Even after confirming the fact that Claudius is indeed guilty of the crime for which he stands accused, Hamlet still hesitates when presented with the perfect opportunity to kill him while the King is alone in his chamber praying. His excuse is that if he murders him while in prayer, his uncle “[will] [go] to heaven” (III, iii, 75), and thus he will not have rightfully taken revenge. Hamlet is precautious about each of his actions. His method of solving his quandary involves an immense deal of devising, but lacks execution. Consequently, this delay allows Claudius to plan Hamlet’s execution in England. When Hamlet finally does act, he does so only because it his last chance before his death. His postponement gives Claudius many opportunities to plot against him, leading to the deaths of various other characters such as Gertrude and Laertes who become casualties of their schemes. Claudius could have been easily killed and many lives would have been spared had Hamlet not procrastinated, and acted earlier. It is his exceedingly introspective demeanour and inability to avenge his father’s death that leads him, as well as many others, to their demise.
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