Essay on Hamlet
Prince Hamlet’s indecisiveness in the tragic play creates terror and destruction in the city of Denmark. After the king’s death, the city falls into chaos. With his father’s death and his mother’s recent marriage to his uncle, Hamlet is unsure of how to deal with his emotions and begins to feel as if he has no purpose. He encounters his father’s ghost who reveals that Claudius, who is now the king, played a role in his father’s death. It is then that Hamlet is given a purpose. In The Tragedy of Hamlet, William Shakespeare emphasizes Hamlet’s fear of action and how he attempts to overcome this weakness by putting up a facade to avenge his father’s death.
One of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes comes from Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be, or not to be, that is the question”(3.1.63). In this part of the play, Hamlet contemplates his existence, taking in consideration the unknown of the afterlife. He remembers that committing suicide is an action that is forbidden by God and therefore, he does not do it. Hamlet is not a man of action like Ophelia’s brother, Laertes. He thinks about his actions and doesn’t take risks that will hurt him. The soliloquy is only the beginning of Hamlet’s indecisiveness. Throughout the play, Shakespeare highlights the importance of Hamlet’s fear of death. He knows the consequences of what could happen if he ends his life or the life of Claudius without any proof that he killed the king, so he chooses to wait. This event is just another excuse to fuel his doubt.
Hamlet is known as a huge over-thinker, and he believes he is a coward as he says, “Conscience does make cowards of us all, thus determination is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” (3.1.90-92). Conscience is the inner voice that awakens and tells him to think twice about his actions. Hamlet lets his doubts, and fear of death control his thoughts. He is afraid of what lies beyond in the afterlife and this keeps him from killing Claudius. The only way that Hamlet can harm Claudius is if he catches him in a sinful act. He wants to confirm that what the ghost is saying about his father’s murder is true. But instead of confronting Claudius, Hamlet procrastinates and decides to beat around the bush. He instructs the actors in a play to act out a murder scene in front of Claudius to make him feel guilty and confess. His plan fails, and he then believes that the next step in overcoming this trepidation is to pretend to go mad. At first the characters think that he behaves that way because he is deeply in love with Ophelia, however, that is not the case. Hamlet wants them to believe he has lost it so that they won’t suspect his plan to expose Claudius. One day, he catches Claudius praying and finds this as another chance to put off and excuse the murder of his uncle.
Due to Hamlet’s thinking but never acting self, the situation in Denmark worsens. Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, along with Laertes, Ophelia and Polonius, get caught up in the mess that Hamlet creates. Hamlet’s inaction has a price far greater than the cost of committing one mistake which could’ve been killing Claudius right away. Because he denies his emotions and lets fear take over, many of the main characters including his mother, face a tragic death in the end. In the final scene, Hamlet realizes that it is good to think before one acts, but thinking or waiting too long will cause one to hurt more people in the process. He pays his procrastination and puts behind his months of analyzing with his own life, all too late.