William Shakespeare explores his literary craftsmanship through creating multifaceted characters like King Lear, Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet and the fate of these characters often permits critics to think about the theme, plot, and portrayal of events and meaning of Shakespeare’s tragic plays. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is widely accepted as a psychological play and critics have seriously discussed the reason for Hamlet’s tragic flaw as procrastination which makes him say ‘to be or not to be’. Many literary critics have believed that the mystery of the play is Hamlet’s delay in killing King Claudius and the whole play gives remarkable answers for his delay. In other words, the play reveals the idea that how is it possible to take rational, controlled, purposeful and effective action? In case of Hamlet, it is obvious that the question how to act is disturbed by rational considerations, severe emotional problems, ethical issues, the need for certainty and psychological problems. Viewer can see repeated failure of Hamlet in his attempt to kill Claudius. The main reason for his failure is his unending search for reasonable, purposeful, effective action.
Consequently, he always fails to triumph over the problems which related with psychological, ethical and emotional factors. Therefore, Shakespeare’s play Hamlet explores the mystery of Hamlet’s delay in taking revenge towards his enemies.
The idea about mystery of death is discussed in a detailed manner in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet’s fourth soliloquy reveals his thoughts about earthly existence, life after death and meaninglessness of material pleasures. Hamlet’s philosophical thoughts often prevent him from taking actions. On the other hand, the play never allows the viewer to understand the truth about Hamlet’s mysterious delay. Dramatist demonstrated the concept of death is closely tied up with various themes such as spirituality, uncertainty and truth. In addition, Hamlet finds answers for all his questions. In the end, Hamlet realizes that death plays the role of cause as well as the consequences. King Hamlet’s death intensifies the thought of revenge in Hamlet’s mind. Similarly, death of Claudius ends Hamlet’s revenge against the murderers of his father.
Hamlet obtains number of opportunities to take vengeance against his enemies but he pays no heed to these opportunities and reveals his weaknesses through his delay. Nothing like other Shakespeare’s heroes Othello and Macbeth, Hamlet discloses faults in his own character. Viewer can find the fact that in the Act One of the play itself, his decision not to kill himself because of religious thoughts makes obvious his weakness. It is significant to note that Hamlet’s revenge is not only personal but also keeps social, emotional and psychological aspects. Therefore, Hamlet fails to see several chances to take his revenge. The online article entitled Shakespeare’s Hamlet states that “Hamlet becomes instead a passive instrument in the hands of Providence, and his killing of Claudius, an act of public justice” (Caves). It is clear that a number of external factors affect Hamlet’s action. Hamlet’s moral sense often acts as a barrier which prevents him in taking action. Another remarkable reason is that Hamlet’s search for certainty always provides negative impact in his thoughts and actions and often reveals his doubts about the existence of ghosts. In
Act II, scene 2, Hamlet cries that “The spirit I have seen may be a devil” (Shakespeare 73). These kinds of ideological conflicts always ensured Hamlet’s failure.
Finally Hamlet’s nature and his values always forced him to reveal his problem of procrastination in his life. He is very sensitive, introvert and melancholic person. The Ghost’s revelation and his mother’s remarriage with Claudius pulled him to a world of frustration. In Act III, scene 4, Hamlet says “Have you not eyes? You cannot call it love” (Shakespeare 109). Here the reader can never agree Hamlet’s action to avoid his mother from giving punishment. However, Hamlet’s inner conflicts about the ghost’s revelation diminish his desire to take revenge against the King and his mother.
Hamlet’s determination to kill Claudius is clear and strong but his religious faith, sense of morality, and his thoughts about the existence of ghost prevent him in taking action. Hamlet’s extreme revenge and his desire for taking revenge against Claudius exposes that the man is not a coward or a sympathetic person. But William Shakespeare portrayed the character of Hamlet as a mysterious one. The play never allows the reader to find answer to the question, why Hamlet fails in his task.
Caves, Janie. Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Bob Jones University. 2005. Web. 14 May. 2012. http://www.bju.edu/events/fine-arts/cod/archive/hamlet/hamlet-smart.pdf.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Rev.edn. Forgotten Books, 2002. Print.