To Do, Or Not To Do: Cowardice In Hamlet By William Shakespeare

1023 words - 5 pages

To Do, or Not to Do
Hamlet is a coward. In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare he delays avenging his father’s death. He is visited by his father in the form of a ghost. He is told by the ghost to get revenge and kill his uncle Claudius, because he murdered him and married his wife to become king. Hamlet experiences a tremendous amount of internal conflict throughout the play. He is constantly debating whether or not he should face his troubles. He goes through a lot of conflict throughout the play especially with his uncle/stepfather king Claudius. Hamlet is delayed by a combination of internal character traits and external obstacles because of his passive nature, doesn’t trust the ghost, the ghost gives him ambiguous instruction and he gets shipped to England.
In the play, Hamlet is seen as having passive nature. He promises to avenge his father’s death but fails to do so. This is seen when he wants to kill Claudius but doesn’t do it because Claudius is praying and Hamlet doesn’t want him to die without sins on his soul. He says “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; and now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven, and so am I revenged. That would be scann'd. A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (3.3.75-80). In this quote, Hamlet sees Claudius praying alone, but hesitates to kill him because it would send his soul to heaven. If he kills Claudius when he has no sins he would go to heaven and Hamlet does not want that to happen. His own father didn’t have the chance to confess his sins before he died.
Hamlet's internal actions further strengthened with his meeting with the ghost. The information that Claudius murdered his father, was given to Hamlet and immediately caused hatred in himself. He stated “Haste me to know’t that I with wings as swift, as meditation or the thoughts of love, may sweep to my revenge” (1.5.25-27). In this quote, Hamlet says to hurry and tell him about it, so he can take revenge right away, faster than a person falls in love. This statement shows the rage and anger of Hamlet wanting to get revenge on his uncle. Hamlet still does not act upon this as quickly as he claims, which shows that he is unable to step into action.
Hamlet is unsure if he can trust the ghost. At that time ghosts were considered evil. So Hamlet was suspicious. He hated his uncle but wanted to take his time and not murder King Claudius without any proof. Hamlet didn’t want to take the ghosts word in case it was evil. He decided to find out if what the ghost is saying is true or not because Hamlet says “[…] The spirit that I have seen May be the devil, and the devil hath power, To assume a pleasing shape; yea,...

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