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Hamlet and his hesitation

One should start by defining `Hamlet'. `Hamlet' is a tragedy. The tragic action stems from a flaw or failing act of shame or horror, and as a result the protagonist suffers intensely. The protagonist- Hamlet in this play has a fatal defect or tragic trait in his character- uncertainty, delay of action. There are also two conflicts involved: an inner conflict in the mind and soul of the protagonist, and an outer or physical one as he comes into collisions with his opponents. But the centre of a tragic impression is the sense of waste. There is a profound sense of sadness, wasted talent and unnecessary suffering towards or at the end. The character of Hamlet stands quite by itself. It is not a character marked by strength of will or even of passion, but by refinement of thought and sentiment. It is more his taste to indulge his imagination in reflecting upon the enormity of the crime and refining his schemes of vengeance, than to put them into immediate practicehis ruling passion is to think and not to act. Hamlet is plagued by self-doubts. In his second soliloquy, the essence of his true conflict is uncovered. He is committed to seeking revenge for his father, King Hamlet, yet he cannot act on behalf of his father because of his revulsion towards extracting that cold and calculating revenge. Hamlets self-condemnation takes several forms, including a series of imaginary, demeaning insults that he absorbs like a coward- he feels he has done nothing to take revenge on Claudius and feels like he lacks the ability- `unpregnant of my cause'. Hamlet fails to quell his apprehensions of committing murder, so he tries to focus his attention on a plan to ensure Claudius admits his own guilt. He stages the play `The Mousetrap' where Claudius's crimes are re-enacted, forcing the King to reveal his own guilt. This gives him proof that revenge on Claudius would be justified- so he sets out to `catch the conscience of the King.' Hamlet tries to find reason for his inadequacy- `Am I a coward?' but his hesitation does not make him one. He is a Prince, an intellectual and has a sense of social duty towards Denmark and its people. One should ask, why does Hamlet procrastinate in taking revenge on Claudius? He is a man of great moral integrity who is forced to commit an act, which goes against his deepest principles. Through his soliloquies, he tries to make sense of his moral dilemma. To take another perspective, one could say that Hamlet has become so disenchanted with life since his father's death that he has neither the desire nor the will to exact revenge. He is also faced with an appearance- reality dilemma- he does not know whom to and who not to trust- what the other characters may appear to be, may not be reality. Hamlet would rather have confirmation of his uncle's betrayal or treachery before taking action. His third soliloquy-`To be, or not to be' is governed more by reason than by frenzied motion as compared to the previous one. He asks whether one should live or not, but it could also be a question as to whether to take action or not; a question between reason and passion. To me, the opening line of this soliloquy does not suggest that Hamlet is hesitating, but rather that he contemplates and sparks an internal debate within himself. I agree that Hamlet possesses a quality of nobility. It is noble and reasonable for him to confirm Claudius's guilt and also to confirm that the ghost of his father is an, `honest ghost.' He prepares to duel against Laertes at the near end, although there was no honour on Laertes' part as he avenges his father's death. `There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow...the readiness is all.' Throughout the play Hamlet has known more than any of the others, but here he accepts the fact that no man has achieved knowledge about the true nature of reality. From these lines one can conclude that Hamlet is content and has `resigned to his fate.' He seems to have resolved the conflict he had previously with himself and answers a question he once asked- `Let be.' As with all tragedies, the moral order in the end is re-established, as Hamlet kills the King and although he himself dies, Denmark is left in the hands of a responsible Fortinbras- Prince of Norway. Hamlet was definitely plagued by self-doubts, and this did result in his hesitation, but it did not make him a coward and rather brought his honesty and nobility to the fore. He would not have wanted to regret

something that shouldn't have happened, and although he lost the power of action in the energy of resolve, he thought about his plans and reasoned, and in the end it counted.