Hamlet Essay

1118 words - 4 pages

In William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", Hamlet, the protaganist is faced with the moral delema of killing his step-father, and uncle Claudius. The message to kill Claudius came from the ghost, his father, old king Hamlet. Hamlet's reasoning behind promising to go about this harsh action was the fact that Claudius had killed his father. Hamlet's delay is caused by his prolonged reaction to the ghost's message. It is this delay which ultimately causes his and his mothers death. Hamlet must kill Claudius to maintain family honor, yet is faced with the moral and ethical dilemma of how to complete the task.When Hamlet first encounters the ghost he realizes that the ghost has an important message for him. Since the ghost took the form of his father, old King Hamlet, he choses to follow it, disregarding Horatio's pleas to stay within the castle grounds. When Hamlet speaks to the ghost he is provided with the knowledge that his father had died at the hands of Claudius, the present king. The ghost then tells Hamlet that he must murder Claudius in order to revenge his fathers death. "Hamlet is morally obligated to obey the Ghost" (Prosser 242). At this point in history in order to keep the family honor in tact it was the son's duty to avenge his fathers death. Hamlet realizes that he is faced with the obligation of killing Claudius, yet his ethical being stops him from immediate reaction.Haster me to know't; that I, with wings as swift/ As meditation or the thoughts of love,/ May sweep to my revenge. (I, V, 29-31) Hamlet swears that he will quickly avenge his fathers death, yet he does not know how to go about this task, therefore he beings to overthink his actions and the sitution, in turn delaying his response further. He is plagued by the dilemma of how to kill Claudius, while still maintaining his soul. "The primary argument against revenge was that the revenger endangered his own soul." (Prosser 7). Hamlet is too preoccupied with the idea of keeping his soul in tact that he allows perfect opportunities to kill Claudius pass him by. One opportunity arose when Claudius was in the chapel. Hamlet delayed his first impulse to kill Claudius at this point because he believed that Claudius was praying for forgiveness, therefore if he was to stab him, Claudius would go to heaven and he would go to hell. Unfortunately Hamlet was wrong in his assumption and therefore allowed a perfect opportuntiy to avenge his father death pass him by, in turn delaying his response to the situation further.Througout the play Hamlet puts on a façade which delays him in fullfilling his task of killing Claudius. He is given ample chances to act upon the promise he made to the ghost, yet he constantly comes up with excuses of why and how to avoid the situation. Hamlet tries to find the perfect time and opportunity to kill Claudius, yet ignores that fact that there is not, and will never be a "perfect" time for murder. When Hamlet is first graced with the knowledge of...

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