Hamlet Essay

1160 words - 5 pages

Weakness is an inadequate or defective quality in one's character that negates their strength that is often accentuated by an unsatisfactory situation. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, a character's inability to overcome their weakness due to it being emphasized by their unfortunate circumstance results in their tragic downfall. This is illustrated through Hamlet's over thinking, Claudius's ambition, and Gertrude's naive persona.


Hamlet's character is one that is very thoughtful and conscious, however some view these qualities as procrastination and over thinking. Even Hamlet himself acknowledges this in his soliloquy when he states: "Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do'/ Sith I have cause and will and strength and means/ To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me/ "(4.4.46-48). Hamlet has all the motivation to strive for revenge with the untimely death of his father and his mother's incestuous and speedy marriage to Claudius, yet he still procrastinates the deed. Hamlet must overcome his constant over thinking of events and recognize in himself the strength and means to accomplish the required act. When Hamlet is finally presented the opportunity to get his revenge on Claudius, once again his feebleness arises as he talks himself out of killing him when he says: "But in our circumstance and course of thought,/ ‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then reveng’d./ To take him in the purging of his soul, / When he is fit and season’d for his passage?"(3.3.83-86). Hamlet is concerned that since Claudius is praying, most likely for his sins, he will go to heaven and the timing of the moment was not suitable. Hamlet's extreme reflection causes him to miss revenge and passes up Claudius' vulnerability. Yet again Hamlet procrastinates revenge and is left pondering his next step. Throughout the play, the perpetual elongation of Hamlet's supposed revenge leads up to Claudius' chance to murder him first. When wounded and about to pass away, Hamlet states: " Had I but time- as this fell sergeant death/ Is strict in his arrest- O, I could tell you/ But let it be. Horatio, I am dead/"(5.2.326-328). Hamlet comprehends the issue of time when he says this, and it us quite ironic as Hamlet did in fact have plenty of time to act. It is Hamlet's constant over thinking that gave Claudius the opportunity to strike first. This personal weakness combined with his terrible situation led to Hamlet's tragic downfall.


Claudius' character is one that is conniving and manipulative, yet mostly ambitious. This is his main fault, considering all of Claudius' ambitious actions resulted in his death. In Claudius' soliloquy, he shares why his action of killing Hamlet Sr. was of benefit to him when he said: "Of those effects for which I did the murder,/ My crown, mine own ambition and my queen"(3.3.54-55). He admits that his ambition was a cause of his plan to murder Hamlet's father,and his evil plan will prove to fire back at him later on in the...

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