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Hamlet Essay, Research Paper
The obscurity of human thought and sentiment inhibits the possibility of
understanding an individual?s actions. The human mind is composed of its own
due process, which, in certain individuals, might disable the ability to make
decisions and act. In the play Hamlet the protagonist is marked by an indecisive
nature. By analyzing every aspect of a possible action, Hamlet inevitably finds a
reason not to act. His actions are untimely. The often procrastination of serious
acts lead to an even more complicated situation. The complexities of the events
which take place in the play do not always provide Hamlet with a possible clear
decision. He is constantly faced with a challenging dilemma that adds to the
intricacy of his life. Hamlet is overly conscious and unable to make a decision
because of the uncertainty of the consequences that might follow. There is a
constant threat that reaction these consequences will not be what he expects,
possibly being detrimental to his cause. This deters him from attempting to
execute any of his machinations. All these factor demonstrate that Hamlet does
not suffer from a failure of will, but rather of an over analytical character that
impedes him from taking any significant action.
By constantly questioning every aspect of a possible action, Hamlet
ultimately finds a reason no to act. He is constantly contemplating on the
possibility of self-slaughter. This is evident in his soliloquies and disregard
towards life. Hamlet expresses his sentiments, regarding the fact that his dear
mother married his uncle only two months after the death of his father, by saying
?O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
?How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!? ( I ii, 129-130, 133-134)
This excerpt clearly demonstrates Hamlet?s belief that suicide is a possible and
realistic option. His grief is so immense and his mother?s actions are so repugnant
the life has no meaning for him. But Hamlet does not kill himself, he finds a
reason not to; ?Or that the Everlasting had not fixed — His cannon ?gainst self-
slaughter!?( I ii, 131-32) he explains. Hamlet fears damnation, he will not kill
himself because it is a mortal sin allowing no possibility for salvation. Hamlet
also express the same feelings when he says: ??To die, to sleep ? No more ? and
by a sleep to say we end ? The heartache and the thousand natural shocks ? That
flesh is heir to.? ( III I, 61-64) Again suicide was in his mind, and again he found
an excuse no to further his thoughts. ?But that the drear of something after death, –
- The undiscovered country from whose bourn ? No traveler returns, puzzles the
will.? ( III I, 179-181) The fear of what will happen after death deters him.
Hamlet also fails to take any significant action in many other occasions. He
does not kill Claudius immediately after the apparition of the Ghost, in which he
discovered that his father was really murdered by him. ?The spirit that I have seen
– May be the devil??( II ii, 599-600 ) Hamlet subconsciously finds a reason not
to act by doubting the validity and origin of the apparition. Hamlet encounters
another chance to kill Claudius. It is after a play, set up by Hamlet to verify
Claudius? guilt. Claudius clearly expresses his guilt by standing up as the murder
of Hamlet?s father was reenacted. Now Hamlet is absolutely certain that Claudius
is the perpetrator of the most foul and unusual murder. But Hamlet finds yet
another reason to postpone his deed.
?When he is drunk asleep, r in his rage,
Or in th? incestuous pleasure of his bed,
At game a-swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in ?t?
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damned and black
As hell, whereto it goes.?( III iv, 89-95)
Claudius is in a chapel, apparently praying; therefore Hamlet hesitates killing him
because at this moment he believes Claudius will not go to heaven.
One must also consider the fact that Hamlet cannot simply disregard his
morals and values. ?Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.? ( III I, 84)
Hamlet understands that conscience, or what society has taught individuals to
believe, is an impediment. To go against what one holds as true and right is to go
against one self. Hamlet realizes that his conscience prevents him from taking any
significant action, therefor by the end of the play he convinces himself that he
must act. ? A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom ? And ever three
parts coward? O from this time froth ? my thoughts be bloody or be nothing
worth!?( IV iv, 43-44, 66-67) Hamlet finds extremely difficult to decide what is
the right thing to do. The most honorable thing to do is to kill Claudius, but that is
both treason and an unforgivable sin. Hamlet has also a strange relationship with
his mother. He does not know how to treat his mother, or even to that matter
Ophelia. He truly loves both women, but cannot trust either of them.
?Why wouldst thy be a ? breeder of sinners? I
am indifferent honest, but
yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better
my mother had not borne me: ?
Or, if thou wit needs marry, marry a fool,
for wise men know well enough what monsters you
make of them.? (III I, 122-125, 139-141)
Hamlet is constantly affronted with situations that do not provide a right answer.
All his actions are extremely important and the fear of failure, or making a wrong
decision, leads him to an eternal reasoning process, which leads him to nothing.
The complexities of the events that take place through out the play do not
always provide Hamlet with one clear decision. Hamlet discovered the means by
which his father died by the apparition of a ghost, a most mysterious and unusual
way. This could have been an extrapolation of his disturbed mind or a fabrication.
It would be impossible to justify the murder of Claudius to the courtiers on the
bases of a vision. After all, Claudius was the king and to kill him was treason.
Hamlet also does not know what is his mother position on these events. Gertrude
married Claudius only two months after the death of Hamlet?s father death; she
might have been an accomplice. Due to these doubts Hamlet can not trust his own
mother. His relationship with Ophelia is just as turbulent. She refused to meet
him; she helped the king spy on him, and indirectly by killing herself she brings
Laertes to seek revenge on Hamlet.
?So shall you hear of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, of accidental
judgments, casual slaughters, of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause, and,
in this upshot, purposes mistook fall?n on th? inventors? heads.?( V ii 382-387)
Hamlet is marked not by strength of will or even of passion but by refinement of
thought and sentiment. His indecisive character presents an obstacle in the
realization of his contrivances. By over analyzing any possible action he might
take, Hamlet often finds a reason impeding from taking any significant action.
When and if he took any of those actions they were too late. Hamlet finds himself
making the ?least worse? decision, due to the fact that there is no clear right
decision to take. The intricacies of the plots add to Hamlet?s desperation and
indecisiveness. Hamlet is real; one can identify with him. The uncertainty his of
life provides no clear path, but rather a rugged and confusing road. Many times
there is no right answer. He must use his discrimination to choose the best
possibility. Hamlet, unfortunately, lacks this ability. The quintessence of Hamlet?
tragedy is basically expressed in these words (ironically belonging to Hamlet
himself): ?Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave that I, the son of a dear
father murdered, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, must like a whore
unpack my heart with words??( II ii, 583-586)
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