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Indecision, Hesitation and Delay in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Hesitation in Hamlet

William Shakespeare's Hamlet is tragic because all of the enmity being the product of one man's inability to make decisions. I believe the play is showing the steps of hesitation a person goes through who cannot choose, and the resultant angst. This one man is Prince Hamlet. Throughout the play he comes into situations where he just can't move himself into action.

In Act I, Scene 5 Hamlet has an encounter with a ghost who explains that it is Hamlet's deceased father. After a little while of talking the ghost tells Hamlet that he did not die of natural causes, but was in fact murdered. When the ghost says this Hamlet replies with:

"Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift

As meditation or the thoughts of love

May sweep to my revenge." (Lines 29-31)

Hamlet is swearing to avenge his father's death as fast as possible. The ghost then tells Hamlet that the villain who committed the murder was the King's own brother Claudius. This surprises Hamlet, but he knows he made a vow and he must stick to it, he then says:

"So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:

It is, Adieu, adieu, remember me.

I have sworn't." (I.V. Lines 110-111)

After the scene with the ghost the reader would most likely believe that an enraged Hamlet gone straight to Claudius' room to kill him. This is the first incident when Hamlet is observed being incapable of making decisions.

In Act II, Scene 2, two scenes after Hamlet was about to kill the king, he still hasn't done it, but during this scene Hamlet comes in contact with a group of traveling actors and asks them to play for the king. Hamlet tells us in this next quote of his tragic flaw of indecision and of his plan ...

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...gh out the play tearing at his soul. So in the end it was Hamlet's inability to act that kills him and many others.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations Of Hamlet. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Boklund, Gunnar. "Hamlet." Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Epstein, Norrie. "One of Destiny's Casualties." Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. of The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless to the Best of the Bard. New York: Viking Penguin, 1993. p. 332-34.

Jorgensen, Paul A. "Hamlet." William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. T. J. B. Spencer. New York: Penguin, 1996.
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