This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Hamlet's Hesistation To Kill Claudius Essay

1479 words - 6 pages

How far do you agree that Hamlet’s hesitation to kill Claudius in Act Three is underpinned by religious reasons? Of all the different motives Shakespeare presents for Hamlet’s lack of action, which seems to be the most important?

Critics have attempted to explain Hamlet’s delay in avenging his father for centuries and the most relevant scene to illustrate Hamlet’s hesitation is in Act Three when Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius but doesn’t. Hamlet says at the time that he does
“this same villain send
To heaven.”
It could be said that Hamlet is deliberately delaying his revenge for fear of actually committing it. However, religion was a focal part of people’s lives at the time the play was set and at the time it was written, one would be justified in claiming that Hamlet genuinely didn’t want to kill Claudius while he was praying to prevent him from going to heaven.

Furthermore, it is possible to propose that Shakespeare merely uses this scene to provoke irritation and consequently suspense from the audience. If Hamlet wasn’t given this opportunity to kill Claudius we would have not this insight into Hamlet’s indecisiveness, possible cowardice and inability to kill Claudius in cold blood. It is probable to suggest that through this soliloquy we are shown that Hamlet’s initial passion for revenge after the Ghost’s visitation has faded as the play progresses to merely thinking about killing Claudius.

This scene is in fact a visual representation of Hamlet’s problem throughout the play, this focal problem is open to two different interpretations: either Hamlet has the ability and passion to kill Claudius but he doesn’t have the right time to do it, or Hamlet doesn’t have the self-assurance and courage to do it even when an opportunity is presented to him. It seems unlikely that Hamlet lacks the self-assurance and certainty of Claudius’ guilt as this scene is directly after the scene in which Claudius is overcome with guilt when Hamlet senior’s murder is played out before him. Hamlet discusses Claudius’ reaction to the play with Horatio and says:
“I’ll take the ghost’s word for a
thousand pound.”
In other words, he believes the ghost’s accusation. This leaves Hamlet as being a coward or as a fervent revenger without opportunity.

Another interesting thing that happens at this part of the play is that the Player King unintentionally refers to Hamlet’s inaction:
“What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.”
The Player seems to be saying that Hamlet only made his pledge to avenge his father on the spur of the moment when he was blinded by passion and that now that immediacy of the ghost’s accusation has faded he lacks conviction.

Shakespeare sprinkles subtle lines alluding to Hamlet’s apparent cowardice and failure as a classical revenger. In addition to this, Shakespeare may intentionally delay Hamlet’s revenge and remove emphasis from his passion to break the trend of...

Find Another Essay On Hamlet's Hesistation to Kill Claudius

Moral Order in Hamlet, by Shakespeare

1097 words - 4 pages killed. Hamlet, on the other hand, spares Claudius' life, rather than to kill him at prayer. Hamlet's indecisiveness is born of his internal struggle to remain morally correct.As the play continues, Hamlet's murder, a mistake, of Polonius - a minor character - serves to balance the moral wrongs committed against Hamlet by Polonius and Laertes, Ophelia's father and brother. Both Laertes and Polonius had ridiculed Ophelia in thinking that Hamlet

The Masks of Hamlet Essay

1317 words - 6 pages Hamlet kills Polonius aggressively, Hamlet concludes that Polonius is "dead, for a ducat, dead" (III.iv.25). Hamlet than continues by hurting both Ophelia and Gertrude with psychological warfare. These three people, Ophelia, Gertrude, and Polonius, are Claudius' allies. Hamlet sees that by wounding Claudius' allies, Hamlet is indirectly harming Claudius. This appears to be Hamlet's short-term goal: to rid Claudius of allies. Continuing, Hamlet

Hamlet's Revenge

551 words - 2 pages Hamlet, a play of rationalization, vicious deceit, and stinging vengeance develops Hamlet as a main character. These specific traits are carried out in the play by the character Hamlet himself. Procrastination is one of Hamlet's undesirable characteristics. Hamlet seeks revenge when Claudius kills Hamlet's own father, the king. Hamlet's reasons for the delay in seeking revenge for his father are his moral reasons and his need to be a rational

Hamlet

854 words - 3 pages , while Hamlet observes whether or not Claudius has a guilt stricken reaction. Nevertheless, this opportunity amounts to nothing. Another instance was when Claudius is defenseless praying (it was thought in the Elizabethan Era that if you were to kill a man while he was praying, you would be damned to hell), but in spite of all Hamlet's other opportunities, he still decides against killing him. At this time Hamlet states, ""¦and know thou a

Hamlet

521 words - 2 pages      There are many theories to why Hamlet, who plays the prince in the tragedy, Hamlet, delays in killing his Uncle, King Claudius. Hamlet feels the need to murder King Claudius because he is convinced that his uncle is the cause of Hamlet's father's death. Even though the action of killing Claudius is not carried out until the very end it dictates Hamlets every move in the play. Though he does not know for sure that

Hamlet - Study Guide

696 words - 3 pages . Hamlet cannot fulfill his act of revenge if he is in England, but when Hamlet returns, Claudius has to find another way how to destroy him. They are after each other, Claudius has to guard his throne and Hamlet get his revenge.ACT III, SCENE 3 1.Hamlet's failure to kill Claudius in this scene may be regarded as the more logical crisis of the play. Hamlet cannot kill Claudius while he is praying in the chapel and cleansing his heart from guilt

Hamlett:Play Within A Play Act 3

273 words - 2 pages Hamlet Act III The significance of the play within a play is to help express Hamlet's anger toward his uncle. Hamlet wrote this play and it is like a speech to the audience.Hamlet sat around and told the actors how to act it out and to make it believable.He wanted them to use emotion and it make it dramatic. Hamlet used this play to show that Claudius was guilty of killing his father. He wanted to make sure Claudius could recognize his

Hamlet's Summary

1376 words - 6 pages Gertrude reveals that only King Hamlet's death and her recent remarriage could be upsetting Hamlet.We learn more of Young Fortinbras' movements and Polonius has his own theory about Hamlet's transformation; it is caused by Hamlet's love for his daughter Ophelia. Hamlet makes his famous speech about the greatness of man. Hamlet plans to use a play to test if King Claudius really did kill his father as King Hamlet's Ghost told him...Act III.The King's

The moral state of Denmark in Hamlet

654 words - 3 pages attention to his marriage to Gertrude, the Queen. His words were "So much for him [Hamlet Sr.]." (Act 1, Scene 2, ll. 25). Later, another seemingly prominent character was murdered: Polonius. He killed Polonius in cold blood thinking that it was Claudius. Yet, he did not express the expected grief. His expression was simply: "How now? A rat! Dead for a ducat, dead." (Act 3, Scene 4, ll. 23). When Claudius heard of Hamlet's attempt to kill him he

The Embodiment of Machiavellian Ideals in Shakespeare's Hamlet

933 words - 4 pages recognizes his salvation and seat depend on Hamlet's death. He later deploys Laertes for the dual to seal Hamlet's fate. Claudius is unrelenting in his attempts to end Hamlet's conspiracy and life. Hamlet, however, is unable at key moments to act outside of his good nature, which leads to his ruin and his own death. Chief among these moments, is when he fails to kill Claudius while he is praying; ""To take him in the purging of his soul, / When

The Flaws of Hamlet

705 words - 3 pages later in the play, when Hamlet kills Polonius. The indecisiveness of Hamlet's actions can be illustrated throughout the play when he debates whether or not to kill Claudius. While these qualities aren't familiar with a typical "Hero", Hamlet moves away from this stereotype of having no flaws and demonstrates his own manner of heroism.   Hamlet's melancholy affects his life from the moment he speaks with Gertrude and his new father

Similar Essays

Hamlet Essay

511 words - 3 pages kill herself because of Polonius' death, which resulted from Hamlet's madness over Claudius' killing of his father.Knowing that Hamlet knows of his crime, Claudius desires to kill Hamlet to prevent word from getting out that he was responsible for the death of the king. Claudius plays this desire off of Laertes' grief and desire to get vengeance on Hamlet for the deaths of his father, Polonius, and sister, Ophelia. Claudius' evil and self

The Many Identities Of Hamlet In Hamlet By William Shakespeare

829 words - 3 pages The Many Identities of Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the protagonist, Price Hamlet, uses several ways to defend himself against his oedipal desires, his animosity towards his uncle, as well as his own inner conflict . Hamlet's hatred towards Claudius stems from two crimes committed; Claudius' murder of his brother and his incest with Hamlet's mother. Because of the seriousness of both

Hamlet Revenge Essay

1245 words - 5 pages Bansal 5Rajat BansalMr. GajadharENG 4U024 July 2014Hamlet: Examining Hamlet's Delay in Killing ClaudiusThe age-old question, "why does it take so long for Hamlet to avenge his father's murder" has yet to be solved. The reason for Hamlet's delay is not clear but there are many plausible explanations, but one fact is clear that Hamlet is a tragic hero. He is hesitant to kill Claudius, his father's murderer, which eventually leads to his own death

Hamlet Revenge Essay

1245 words - 5 pages Bansal 5Rajat BansalMr. GajadharENG 4U024 July 2014Hamlet: Examining Hamlet's Delay in Killing ClaudiusThe age-old question, "why does it take so long for Hamlet to avenge his father's murder" has yet to be solved. The reason for Hamlet's delay is not clear but there are many plausible explanations, but one fact is clear that Hamlet is a tragic hero. He is hesitant to kill Claudius, his father's murderer, which eventually leads to his own death