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Cause Of Hamlets Delay Essay

1251 words - 5 pages

The Cause of Hamlet's Delay Hamlet is a magnificent play that is complicated and intricate. Ever since it first appeared readers, critics, spectators, actors, directors, and producers have been puzzling about the play, trying to solve it's riddles, to figure out it's problems, to understand it's ambiguities, and to fathom it's greatness. One of the central questions of the play is; why doesn't Hamlet kill Claudius immediately upon hearing the ghost's accusation? Lawrence Oliver answered this question like so; "this is a tragedy about a man who could not make up his mind." Oliver believed that Hamlet's delay of avenging his uncle was due to his problem of thinking too much. This does seem to be the main problem since throughout the play Hamlet's body and mind constantly question one another and never are able to reconcile. The duel between that mind and the body begins with Hamlet's perception of the ghost. The ghost appears in form and as Horatio describes, it is a "a figure like Hamlet's father, armed at all points exactly/ I knew Hamlet's father; these hands are not more like" (1.2.199-211). When Hamlet first meets the ghost, he immediately calls the ghost his father and follows it to where it beckons. In response to the ghosts claim that " the serpent that did sting thy father's life/ Now wears the crown," Hamlet answers, " O my prophetic soul!", revealing that Hamlet has already contemplated this probability (1.5.35-40). The ghost need to do little to persuade Hamlet of the cause of his father's death because Hamlet already conceived this notion in his great distrust and dislike for Claudius.Although Hamlet reacts with anger, thirst for vengeance, and grief, Hamlet is now confused about the ghost's origin. He begins to wonder if the ghost is a devil, a benevolent supernatural force, an expression of his madness, or a sign of his intellect. For example, Hamlet says "the spirit that I have seen/ May be the devil and the devil hath power/ To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps/ Out of my weakness and my melancholy, / as he is very potent with such spirits/ Abuses me to damn me" (2.2.610-615). Fearing deception, Hamlet has doubts, which therefore extend his inaction. In order to test his senses, he devises a scheme to perform a play to "catch the conscience of the king"(2.2.617). Hamlet's inaction results not only from his distrust of his senses but also from his mind's inability to enable his body to take action. Hamlet expresses his incompetence in the soliloquy, "O, what a rouge and peasant slave am I!"(2.2.560). In it he grieves that even a player can control his senses well enough to "force his soul so to his whole conceit/ With tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect," for a fictional Hecuba, while he, called to action in the name of justice and family, cannot unite his mind and body to act (2.2.560-565).Hamlet seems to be dedicated to finding out the truth and figure out...

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