Path to Revenge and Death of Hamlet

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Hamlet is commonly known as one of the best Shakespearean tragedies ever written. This is because of the well-developed characters that are carefully crafted into a tremendously written play. The most complex character of the play is Hamlet, son of old king Hamlet, and successor to the kingship of Denmark. The entire play is revolves around Hamlet, whose sole goal is to get revenge for his father’s death. The doubts Hamlet had about the ghost and of his own desires, as well as his overevaluation of the world led to his inability to get retribution and eventually, his demise.

In the entirety of the play, Hamlet is always putting too much thought into the world he is in. Hamlet slowly examines and carefully plots all of his actions and the consequences that may come of it. His inability to make quick decisions eventually led to his death. Hamlet spends much of his time arguing with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about their perceptions of good and bad. “Why, then, ‘tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison” (Shakespeare 49). This quote depicts the critical observations of the world that Hamlet makes.

Furthermore, this adds to the complexity of Hamlet who analyzes all problems thoroughly before coming to a solution. Another example of Hamlet’s overanalyzing is in his monologue to himself, in act three, scene one, in which he speaks of the fear of death. This overevaulation of death makes Hamlet question his own plans and whether he has the power to kill another person. Lastly, Hamlet questions why he is unable to do anything regarding his father’s death. He finally realizes that the reason he is not doing anything is being he is thinking too much (Bitterman). This, yet again, proves Hamlet’s indecisiveness.

During the first act of the play, the friends of Hamlet confront Old King Hamlet’s spirit wandering in the outskirts of the castle. After viewing the spirit as a bad sign, they report the incident to Hamlet, who is already very shaken by his father’s death. Out of disbelief, Hamlet goes to visit the spirit himself. The spirit tells Hamlet that Claudius is the murderer of Hamlet’s father, and Hamlet must be the one to take revenge on behalf of the spirit of his father. This incident initiates Hamlet’s further examination of his father’s murder.

Even though Hamlet decides to investigate even further, his doubt of the reality of the spirit stops Hamlet from going forth with his retribution. Early after Hamlet’s meeting with the ghost, he is uncertain of the reliability of the spirit of his father. “The spirit that I have seen may be the devil and the devil hath the power to assume a pleasing shame; yet, and perhaps out of my weakness and my melancholy, as he is very potent with such spirits, abuses me to damn me” (Shakespeare 60). As he delves deeper into his own sadness and misery, Hamlet becomes skeptical of the legitimacy of the spirit’s story (Bevington).

Hamlet just assumes that the devil is the one behind this and he is preying on Hamlet’s state of weakness. Hamlet’s ambivalence and lack of trust in himself as well as the spirit forces him to examine his Uncle Claudius. This mistrust only stalls the retribution that Hamlet seeks. Additionally, in Hamlet’s examination of his uncle, he manages to test his reaction regarding the death Old Hamlet. “Observe mine uncle, if his acute guilt.

Do not itself unkennel in one speech. It is a damned ghost we have seen. And my imagination are on foul as Vulcan’s stithy” (Shakespeare 70). The skepticism in the spirit ends in Hamlet unnecessarily delaying his retribution against his uncle while trying to validate the ghost’s story. This path leads to Hamlet being poisoned by Laertes. Because Hamlet never fully committed to killing Claudius, Claudius was able to influence Laertes and coerce him into killing Hamlet. Since Hamlet was not very decisive, he was unable to evade the confrontations and his death which was to come.

Finally, Hamlet’s trust in the ghost’s story is assured when he sees Claudius’ reaction to the play. “O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound” (Shakespeare 78). The only reason Hamlet was able to decide on taking revenge on his uncle was due to Claudius’ confirmation of the ghost’s story with his reaction. However, Hamlet was still too late to decide on his belief of the story because it still gave his uncle enough time to plan how he was going to murder Hamlet. Another factor that contributed to the delay of Hamlet’s decision to take revenge was his skepticism regarding whether he wants to be king or not.

Danish people are made to pick between the younger brother of the Old King, Claudius, or the rightful successor of the throne, Hamlet. The people place their trust in Claudius as he is much wiser and older. This is in hope that Hamlet will become king when he has had ample time to observe the kingship. Although Hamlet is aware that Claudius murdered the Old King and that he is the one that deserves the throne, he is still unable to make a decision on what he should do (Jo). Hamlet confides in Ophelia and tells her of his qualities that he is guilty of.

In Act III Scene II, the personality that Hamlet describes provides a contrast to his behavior. He needs to remove his uncle from the throne, but he is aware that he should not be ambitious. This shows that Hamlet, seemingly, does not want to become king, which inadvertently inhibits his path to revenge. However, Hamlet discloses his anger regarding his stationary stature in society to Rosencrantz. “Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? . . . Sir, I lack advancement” (Shakespeare 80). This is very different from what he told Ophelia, instead here he shows what he truly wants. This newly ignited will to advance fuels Hamlet’s revenge against Claudius.

Hamlet also reveals his eagerness to be king as well as his frustration of Claudius taking his rightful position to Horatio. “Does it not, think’st thee, stand me now upon – He that hath kill’d my king and whored my mother, Popp’d in between the election and my hopes” (Shakespeare 120). This reveals Hamlet’s true desire and intent to be king. Nonetheless, when Hamlet discovers his wants, it is far too late because the plan for Hamlet’s murder has already been devised. If Hamlet did not spend so much time plotting his revenge and deciding what he truly desires, his death could have been evaded.

In conclusion, Hamlet’s demise was imminent and inevitable. This is because of Hamlet’s over analyzation of his surroundings and overall inability to make a quick decision. This hamartia is common in many people even today, and because of this relatability and universality, Hamlet is one of the greatest tragedies ever written.


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Path to Revenge and Death of Hamlet. (2021, Jun 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/path-to-revenge-and-death-of-hamlet/

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