Most of the plays of Shakespeare are said to be written based on the desires of his contemporary audience, especially the revenge tragedies. Revenge creates anger and compels a man to take actions without considering any logic. In historical revenge plays, revenge does not only mean punishing the person(s) liable for a past incident, but it is also aimed to capture the throne. From this point of view, Hamlet is not completely a revenge tragedy. The play is not only about Hamlet’s vengeance. Hamlet, Laertes and young Fortinbras as the eldest sons of their respective families individually have objectives to avenge the murders of their fathers. According the course of the play, both Hamlet and Laertes are able to kill the assassins of their fathers but they fail to be the king of Denmark. Rather they are killed by each other in a swordfight. Only Fortinbras manages to capture the power of Denmark ultimately (though he does not have to kill Claudius).
So the success of revenge depends on the fact that person taking revenge needs to survive to enjoy the results of his actions. The main character Hamlet fails to do that. The ghost of old Hamlet asks him to take revenge of his (old Hamlet) death and to leave Gertrude’s fortune on heaven’s hand. Hamlet is not successful over performing all of these orders properly; rather his speculative attitude causes three deaths in the play that seem to be needless for him.
Moreover, generally in a revenge tragedy, the process of vengeance begins almost immediately after the event responsible for it. But the main character Hamlet takes a long time to take an action after meeting the ghost of old Hamlet. He procrastinates the retaliation process till the end of the play despite being ordered by the ghost of old Hamlet to kill Claudius at the very beginning. Hamlet procrastinates due to many possible reasons. However some scholars think that there is no procrastination in ‘Hamlet’. But the audience notices the procrastination since Hamlet repeatedly repents in his soliloquies for that. It can happen that Shakespeare emphasizes on Hamlet’s procrastination and wants the audience to realize. Hence it cannot be said that there is no procrastination. According to Johnston, “..the delay is not a concept of our imagination, something we impose on the play; it is, by contrast, an issue repeatedly raised by the play itself” (3). About the reasons of Hamlet’s procrastination, Johnston again reports, “Hamlet himself agonizes over his inability to carry out the deed and is constantly searching for reasons why he is behaving the way he is…he is in the grip of something that he cannot fully understand, no matter how much he rationalizes the matter” (6).
One of the reasons of Hamlet’s procrastination of revenge is to prove the authenticity of the ghost of old Hamlet. Hamlet is a scholar from a university of Wittenberg. So his intellect prevents him from believing in such a supernatural being and his words. Hamlet admits that he is...