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Hamlet, Shakespeare's Spectacle Essay

1292 words - 5 pages

Deceit, mystery, murder, and betrayal are all very captivating and together have the makings for a daytime soap opera. In this case, however, they are a part of the tragedy of Hamlet. The most regaling aspects of this play, despite the entertaining and compelling qualities just mentioned, are the revenge and the surprisingly unappealing nature of the main character, Hamlet. Throughout the play, Hamlet makes stupid choices that will ultimately lead to his own death, and the death of many around him. Hamlet should not be identified as a courageous hero seeking to avenge his father but instead as a coward lacking determination.
Hamlet and revenge are almost synonymous. Hamlet and determination are not. As a primary theme of the play revenge is very easy to spot throughout and with it so is Hamlet’s lack of fortitude. During various points in the play, Hamlet is presented with opportunities and chances to retaliate on behalf of his father. However, he lacks the resolve and guts to do so. Hamlet himself is discouraged by his lack of action; “But I am pigeon-liver’d, and lack gall” (Shakespeare 2.2.526). He calls himself a wimp who is not daring enough to kill Claudius and instead “must like a whore, unpack my heart with words” (2.2.535). Hamlet’s cowardice, in this part of the scene, is easily noticed. The man is calling himself out and whining instead of doing the very thing he was berating himself for not doing. Throughout much of the play, Hamlet whines about the death of his father. Stubbornly and like a girl “in obstinate condolement is a course/ of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief” (1.2.94), if you were to ask the new king Claudius. As a future king Hamlet should be able to stand up for himself and tell Claudius he knows about the murder. At first, it is understandable that Hamlet does not act in haste. He recognizes the fact that he should confirm what the ghost has relayed to him before rushing to murder a man, and especially before murdering a king. However, once Hamlet has gotten confirmation there should have been no delay. He should have grabbed Claudius as soon as possible. He had many opportunities to catch Claudius but did not. One such case is when Claudius went to repent. While Claudius was praying, Hamlet thought, “I, his sole son, do this same villain send/ to heaven…No! / Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent” (3.3.77-88). Hamlet did not kill Claudius, as he didn’t want him to go to heaven and decided to procrastinate even further. Hamlet’s weak choices can be compared to that of a train wreck. The choices are unbelievable and passersby, or in this case readers, just cannot look away. Hamlet sees the wrongdoings surrounding him and does nothing. As Ronald Knowles says, “He believes only too well that murder and incest are ‘bad’ and in need of corrective action… but such a resolution is dialectically reversed from action to words” (1056-1057). Hamlet lacks the courage to do what he desires and deems right. To me, if...

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