Delay Of Hamlet

  • Category: Theater
  • Words: 781
  • Grade: 84
At the end of Act 3 Scene 3 we see Hamlet enter the King's private chapel with a sword ready to kill Claudius. He does not carry out his job and delays the killing.
From this I think it is fair to accuse Hamlet of delay but for what reasons did he delay? There are many reasons that can be explored.
Understanding this scene is crucial in understanding why Hamlet delayed. If we look back on the play we cannot accuse Hamlet of being too sensitive or worried. After the ghost appears, he ignores what his friends have to stay and follows the ghost all by himself. In the battle with the pirate ship he manages to overcome the whole crew without anyone's help. He is known to people as a brilliant fencer, and shows his skill with swords in the match between him and Laertes. What can we say the reason is for Hamlet's delay? We can say for sure that Shakespeare did not just put it in so that he could fill his five long acts.
Hamlet is a very brave and courageous Prince but he does realize that killing the king was a great crime and maybe the punishment that awaited him made him think twice about killing him. In the seventeenth century it was considered a very bad thing to kill the King as he had divinity and was supposed to have been placed on the throne as an order from God. Killing the King would have then meant Hamlet going against God.
Even if there was no punishment for killing the king then I still do not think that Hamlet would have killed him because they were in a place of worship "“ a church. He might have taken the sword out, but one thing then went through his mind ; If the King is murdered, the truth is murdered too, and King Hamlet's murder would be impossible to prove. His aim is not to kill the King and gain the throne for himself but to revenge his father's death and punish the murderer.
I think that he decides that he must be patient and wait until he has enough proof to accuse Claudius of murder. He speaks to himself in an attempt to force himself not to use violence, but to be patient. His words in church are not all an excuse for delay when he says that he must wait for the King to be in act that " has no relish of salvation in't. "
So instead of being impatient and carrying out the killing without thinking he delays and he is now determined to achieve one thing which is to justly punish the one who murdered his father.
When Hamlet had the opportunity to kill Claudius he saw that he was praying : "now a is a-praying, and now I will do't." Claudius was agonizing over his dilemma. He has committed murder, yet hopes for a heavenly pardon : "Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder." He knows that although he may escape judgement on earth, there is no escape for him in heaven, except for God's forgiveness through prayer and true repentance. Though he finds he is in no state to pray or repent, he calls on angels to help and kneels to pray : "Art more engaged! Help, angels! "“ Make assay : Bow stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel be soft as sinews of the new- born babe."
The King praying puts off hamlet. If Hamlet killed him then, after he had prayed for forgiveness, Claudius would have been forgiven for his sin. This is the last thing that Hamlet wanted as Claudius then had an opportunity to go to heaven. Hamlet therefore decides to wait for a moment when Claudius was "Drunk asleep" or "In his rage" or "Th'incestuous pleasure of his bed" or "About some act that has no relish of salvation in't "“ Then trip him that his heels may kick at heaven, and that his soul may be as damned as black as hell whereto it goes." He wants to wait until after Claudius commits another sin to ensure that Claudius gets sent to hell.
It could be that the reason why Hamlet delays is because he is concerned about doing the right thing and the only way he can be sure he is doing the right thing is to justify his personal rage, and to have Claudius try to kill him. As soon as he discovers that he personally has a valid reason to kill Claudius, all of Hamlet's anger is free to fly towards Claudius.
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