Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet Play

Shakespeare: Hamlet

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To die, would be to abandon this garden suffocated by weeds. To take one’s
life, is to alleviate turmoil from the heart. Although extremely tempting,
Hamlet cannot, therefore will not commit suicide. For he believes God
"had… fixed / his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter!" (line 131-132
p.166). With this in his mind he drags his burden deeper and deeper into a pit
of agony. Inflicted upon him were the excruciatingly painful blows of his
father’s death and the incestuous marriage of his mother and uncle. Hamlet
held his father with high esteem calling him an excellent king and Hyperion. He
resents his "more than kin, and less than kind" (line 65 p.165)
stepfather, exclaiming, "So excellent a king, that was, to this! / Hyperion
to a satyr" (line 139-140 p. 166). He not only shows resentment towards his
uncle, Claudius, but is also beset with anguish over his mother’s hasty
marriage, crying out, "She married O, most wicked speed, to post / with
such dexterity to incestuous sheets! / It is not nor it cannot come to good: /
But break, my heart" (line 166-169 p.167). Then, the spirit of King Hamlet
visits Elsinor to reveal to his son, "the serpent that did sting thy
father’s life now wears his crown." (lines 39-40 p.172). The spirit asks,
"If thou didst ever the dear father love – revenge his foul and most
unnatural murder. Hamlet must avenge his father’s unnatural and horrible
death! He swears to revenge but delays his vengeance missing opportunities one
right after the other. In the Shakespearean play, Hamlet, the conflict comes
from Hamlet’s Christian and moral beliefs and his need to avenge his
father’s murder. Instead of storming into Claudius’ room to kill him after
hearing what the ghost revealed, Hamlet must discover first-hand whether or not
the ghost is telling the truth of who he is and if his story is factual. He
says, "The spirit that I have seen / may be the devil: and the devil hath
power / to assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps / out of my weakness and my
melancholy, / As he is very potent with such spirits, / abuses me to damn
me" (line 632-637 p.188). Hamlet’s Christian belief is that the devil can
fix its disposition to take advantage of a person’s weakness to abuse them.
This causes a delay in that he must make a plan and carry out the plan in order
to verify the ghost’s accusations of Claudius and his death. Hamlet meets with
players and decides he will have them act out something like the murder of his
father and observe his uncle’s reaction. "I’ll tent him to the quick:
if he but blench, I know my course, … I’ll have grounds more relative than
this: the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the
king." Hamlet now has tools for his revenge: a plan, but still contemplates
suicide. This is evident in his third soliloquy, saying, "To be or not to
be: that is the question:…to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune, or… by opposing end them: To die: to sleep:… by a sleep to say we
end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks…shuffled off this mortal
coil." (line 56-67). This is Hamlet’s greatest inner conflict. He does
not want anything to do with this world. He wants to leave his afflictions and
fall to the eternal peaceful sleep but in his Christian belief God damns those
who commit "self-slaughter". In this soliloquy Hamlet shows a lack of
self-motivation. He is overcome by so much turmoil that he doesn’t want to do
anything, not even avenge his father’s murder but to just die and leave his
problems behind. Hamlet’s mood swings into revenge mode as he sees Claudius’
revealing countenance as he watches the play titled, Mouse-trap, that Hamlet
requested especially for him. By Claudius’ reaction to the play the ghost’s
story is verified to be true. After the play he searches for Claudius and finds
him in "prayer" or what he thinks to be prayer. This is the climax of
Hamlet. Claudius is alone, unsuspecting and vulnerable. Hamlet sees this and
says to him self, "Now might I do it pat, now he is praying. And now I’ll
do’t. And so he goes to heaven;…A villain kills my father; and for that, I,
his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven… He took my father grossly,
full of bread; with all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May:… No! When he
is drunk asleep, or in his rage… or about some act that has no relish of
salvation in’t;… And that his soul may be... damned…" (lines 66-87
p.198). He could have killed him he had the best opportunity but he delayed for
in his Christian belief, when one is "in the purging of his soul"
(line 78 p.198) he will be sent to heaven. Hamlet didn’t want to send Claudius
to the eternal paradise his father was deprived of, so Hamlet walks away for a
more revengeful event. But the King was not and could not pray hopelessly saying
"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: / Words without thoughts never
to heaven go." (lines 90-91 p. 198). A missed opportunity. Claudius could
not repent for his sins for he did not feel guilty enough to give up his wicked
prizes of power, ambition and his brother’s queen. From this point on
everything goes down hill. Near the end Hamlet finally realizes his actions have
been cowardly delayed. "How all occasions do inform against me, / and spur
my dull revenge!…/ Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple / of thinking too
precisely on the event, / a thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom /
and ever three parts coward,… / Sith I have cause and will and strength and
means / to do’t." (lines 33-46 p.206). Finally he realizes something
about himself. His cowardly reluctance is due to ethical considerations. He is
so frustrated with himself he puts all his Christian and moral beliefs aside to
avenge his father’s death and swears, "from this time forth, / My
thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!" (lines65-66 p.207). In the end it
was to late. Hamlet’s delay in action were results of his Christian and moral
beliefs and his need to avenge his father’s murder. His procrastination became
his downfall leading to the tragic death of his mother, Learertes, Claudius, and
himself. Hamlet was the fallen hero that waited to long.
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