Hamlet’s Indecision: the Central Catalyst of Tragedy in Shakespeare’s Masterpiece
How it works
Hamlet’s Indecisiveness and the Emotional Struggle
Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to act at certain times. This causes him to over-analyze each situation, making him unable to respond. This is clear in the play by the frequent delay in acting out his father’s revenge due to the uncertainty of the evidence of his Uncle’s crime. In his soliloquy, he contemplates whether or not to commit suicide. Hamlet himself questions whether it is to be or not to be.
In Act Three, Scene One, Hamlet questions which act is more noble. Is it more noble to suffer from wrong deeds that one has done unto one, or is it more noble to end the suffering by fighting? In this soliloquy, it is clear that Hamlet is torn between what is more noble, as it states in his soliloquy. ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question. Is it nobler in mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to fight against a sea of troubles, And end them by fighting?’ The people around him cause Hamlet’s unhappiness. His mother’s actions of marrying her brother-in-law made Hamlet extremely frustrated, drawing him out of the right mental state. Also, his view of his father is godlike, but he distrusts the Ghost enough to think about killing himself instead of pursuing the Ghost’s request.
Actions Stemming from Uncertainty
Based on what he knows, he is unsure that his Uncle Claudius murdered his father. Who could do such a thing? Murdering someone goes against instincts. How could Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius kill his brother? That goes against the goodness of nature and the bonds of brotherhood. Hamlet must be sure of Claudius’ guilt before he can decide to retaliate. When Hamlet learns of his Uncle’s guilt, again, murder does not come naturally to Hamlet. He also is not sure how to go about the murder.
Hamlet desires to avenge his father’s death, but the exactness of the murder is unclear to Hamlet. Hamlet must consider that he could die while trying to murder Claudius. Hamlet is stressed over his own father’s murder, but he has to plan the right way to murder his Uncle Claudius. At one point, he thought he had murdered Claudius. However, it turned out to be Polonius rather than Claudius. The murder of Polonius only complicates things for Hamlet because of his love for Ophelia.
Moreover, lastly, Hamlet has to find the perfect plan and the perfect time to murder Claudius. He does not desire to die in the process. So he comes up with a plan, as do Claudius and Laertes. Hamlet plans to poison King Claudius’ wine cup, while Claudius and Laertes plan to poison the tip of Laertes’s sword and stab Hamlet, causing him to die a slow and painful death. Hamlet did find the perfect time to kill Claudius. However, alas, it happens while Hamlet is dying himself. Ultimately, Hamlet is far more than an outstanding example of a revenge play. It is, to begin, a tragedy in which the fulfillment of justice entails the avenging hero’s death.
- Shakespeare, W. (1603). Hamlet. London: Nicholas Ling and John Trundell.