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One of the themes I found in the play Hamlet, was the way Hamlet seemed to hold back on getting revenge for his father s murder once he know who did it. After his father s death and the hasty remarriage of his mother to his uncle, Hamlet started to spiral into a suicidal frame of mind. It is in this state that he meets the mysterious figure of his father s ghost where he is told that it was his uncle, Claudius responsible for his death. Hamlet pledges to revenge his murder by Claudius who, the ghost also informs Hamlet, had already committed adultery with his queen during his lifetime. Although Hamlet accepts the ghost s word while he is with him, seeds of doubt about the ghost s authenticity have been sown from the very beginning of the play and continue to torment Hamlet up until the end of the play (Heilman p.45). Hamlet is not shore if this is really his farther or a devil in disguise. Hamlet Swears revenge will be quick for his father s murderer.
For the two months since Hamlet has seen the ghost, Hamlet has been unable to commit his vowed revenge; unable to explain to himself either his long delay or his depression and insanity. Maybe he s scared of taking revenge on Claudius, he may think by taking revenge he endangers his own soul. No matter how right a man might think his motives are, if Claudius is innocent; the act of revenge would inevitably make Hamlet as evil as the accused in the eyes of God (Becker p.32).
Hamlet decides to test Claudius guilt and the authenticity of the ghost; he will stage a performance of a play, which will reproduce Claudius crime and observe his reaction to it (Durband p.304). This plan was successful because Claudius broke down during the performance. Hamlet now knows Claudius is the murderer, and the ghost was actual his father. Hamlet has a perfect opportunity to achieve his revenge when he accidentally comes upon the guilt-ridden Claudius alone in prayer. Again he rationalizes himself into delay, this time on the grounds that his revenge would not be horrible enough as Claudius penitence might save his soul from hell.
Although Hamlet dies at the end, he was able to avenge his father s death. Because Laertes confessed that the king was to blame for hamlets mothers death as well as for the poison on the sword, Hamlet was able to achieve his revenge in terms that exonerated his soul from danger. If Hamlet didn t hold back on getting revenge for his father s murder, I think his mother would have still been alive and Hamlet would have became king; instead they all died because of procrastination.
Becker J. George Shakespeare s Histories . New York: Frederick Ungar
Durband Alan Shakespeare Made Easy- Hamlet Modern English Version Side-
by Side With Full Original Text. U.S: Barron s
Heilman B. Robert Shakespeare: The Tradagedies . New Jersey: Prentice- Hall, Inc