In Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare introduces us to Hamlet who is the son of the late king of Denmark. Hamlet has been given the task of carrying out revenge for his father’s death by the ghost of his late father. Those guilty of sin should not go free. Confused and giving vague instructions by the ghost of his late father, it takes Hamlet a very long time to come up with a solution to this task of revenge given to him. He takes different approaches and schemes so he can be fully ready to take this journey of revenge. In the past a prince is supposed to be a hero, steady in thinking, and quick to action. After knowing the truth behind his late father’s death, Hamlet his son would be driven by emotion, filled with unjust and ready to go in action without any setbacks, but this was different than what we expected. Hamlet felt differently, not because he did not love his father or care about his father’s death but he is delayed by internal character traits because he is religious, intellectual, filled with conflicted emotions and external obstacles such as being exiled from Denmark.
The church played a very important role in people’s lives back then. The Main church in Denmark at that period was the Catholic Church. Citizens looked up to the church for guidance and protection, while following steadfastly the rules and regulations of the church. Hamlet was no exception to this path. The modern world did not change his, he stayed true and faithful to his religion. He believed in obeying God’s Word. When the Ghost first appeared to Hamlet and told him about the revenge, Hamlet definitely doubted the ghost, because in his believe, good ghost do not ask for revenge. There was a clear opening after Hamlet had all the evidence to kill Claudius but he did not, because he kept questioning if it was right in the eyes of God and when he finally knew he was going to commit a sin and came to agreement with it, other religious obstacles stopped him. In “Act III, Scene III, Lines 73-96” Hamlet finds Claudius alone in the balcony and immediately sees this as the perfect opportunity to carry out the revenge, but to his greatest dismay, Claudius is on his knees praying to God asking God for forgiveness. Hamlet could not kill Claudius then, because according to his religious doctrine, if a sinner begs God for forgiveness, God always forgives our sins, so the person is free from sin and if that person dies right after without committing another sin then, that person goes to heaven. Hamlet wanted Claudius to suffer for his sins in Hell, and he knew sooner or later Claudius was going to commit another sin and will not have the chance to ask for forgiveness. Once again the revenge was delayed. No moment was actually good enough for Hamlet in the play.
Hamlet has been going to school for a very long time. He has been studying in England almost all his life. Education was very important to him and he was very intellectual. After his father’s death, he was not very pleased when his new parents demanded he stayed back in Denmark instead of going back to school. Hamlet was a great thinker, he had the mind of a scholar. Everything he did or planned to do, had to be carefully thought off. In “Act III, Scene II, Line 79-91”, Hamlet gives Horatio instructions during a play at the castle, to watch his uncle’s reaction: body movement, expression, and he would do the same. He wanted another person’s opinion and perspective. Hamlet was not completely clueless about the evidence in the death of his father. The ghost had told him everything and including that gave him some clues which he later on discovered. Carrying out the revenge immediately after knowing all that would be the reaction most people would take. But hamlet being the educated person he is, did not feel the need to rush into conclusion. All the accusations laid on his uncle had to be backed up with physical evidence. While thinking about how he was going to find out the truth and Idea came up. He hired players to come and perform at the castle for a fun night and one of the stories the players would act out, will be how his father died. This was a smart move, Hamlet wanted to watch the mannerisms of his uncle during the play. This would help him in understanding if his uncle Claudius is guilty or not. There is always uneasiness when someone is guilty and hamlet needed that proof to take him to the next step. Hamlet needed his actions for the revenge to be justified. The approach Hamlet used is like that of a scientist performing an experiment. First he created a hypothesis, then carries out the experiment, observes the experiment, then draws a conclusion. The hypothesis was Claudius was going to have a negative reaction to the play, the experiment was the players acting out the play, the observation was Hamlet and Horatio observing Claudius while the play was going on; he used Horatio so the experiment is not biased. Last but not the list, is the conclusion which he realized Claudius was guilty.
Hamlet never had the opportunity to fully grieve his father death. Losing a parent is always very tough on people. After losing his Father, the only person Hamlet had left was his Mother to comfort and guide him, but returning to Denmark he finds out that right after the death of his father, his mother is married to his deceased fathers, brother. That was a very disturbing situation and Hamlet had to see and live through it. His mother did not grieve his father as Hamlet would have wanted her to and neither did she stand by Hamlet to help him get over the tragedy. He was left to carry the burden by himself. In “Act I, Scene II, Line 129-159” We see Hamlet open up his feelings about his father’s death and his mother’s relationship. He praises his father as an excellent king, who loved his mother dearly, but despite all that, his mother could not wait to stop grieving and marry his uncle. Hamlet began to see his mother as a bad woman, which leads him to feel disgusted by all women, and strain the relationship he had with Ophelia who he loved so much. Looking back at all the awful things that has been happening in the kingdom, Hamlet begins to lose his mind and question his existence. “In Act III, Scene I, Line 54-88” we see the most famous Hamlet soliloquy, “To be or not to be”. “He compares life to death, whether it is better for a person to withstand all the bad things that goes on in life or to end all the misery by dying?” Pertaining to the religious aspect he thinks about killing himself but falls short of the act because it is a sin to commit suicide. Stock between life and death, Hamlet almost drives himself insane. “Act II, Scene II, Line 573-628” we see Hamlet begin to question himself, feeling guilty of not performing the revenge sooner after having all the evidence. This phase of trying to find his purpose in life, took up more time, delaying the revenge. questions himself and feels guilty for not acting While spending time contemplating, there was a self-realization taking place and he begins to draw closer to a decision.
There were situations which Hamlet had no control over; he could not change the outcome all he had to do was adhere. “Act IV, Scene III, Line 44-57”, Claudius uses this opportunity, in which Hamlet kills Polonius to exile him to England. But he claimed it was for Hamlet’s safety, if the news was released to the public that he killed Polonius Hamlet would have been targeted. By doing this the king was trying to get rid of Hamlet for good, and all the suspicions he had, as he felt hamlet could be a threat to his throne as king. Hamlet knew all this but played along with Claudius game. By going away to England Hamlet was drifted away from his main task of carrying out the revenge and got distracted with the issues of Fortinbras. If he was at the kingdom by watching what goes on, he will have the zeal to carry out the revenge because he cannot stand the disgust. There was no possible way he could do that out of Denmark, because he would not think about it a lot and secondly he lacked the resources.
All this internal traits that hamlet portrayed which were anti-heroic compared to the normal ideology of a prince and external obstacles caused by Claudius which hamlet had no control over led to valuable time being wasted. He was not a coward either, he had great determination and was not afraid to speak the truth, but due to all this terrible events happening at close ranges he began to lose track of himself. He let his intellectual skills get in the way by acting crazy, which led to him having conflicted emotions about life, then killing Polonius as part of his paranoia, and the consequence was him getting exiled. This delay did not only extend the revenge but also affected almost everyone’s life both in Denmark and out of Denmark