Hamlet and the Issue of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Play

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Hamlet and the Issue of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Play The question of why Hamlet does not immediately avenge his father's death is perhaps one of the most perplexing problems faced by an audience. Each generation of viewers has come up with it's own explanation, and it has now become the most widely known critical problem in Shakespearean studies. A rather simplistic, yet valid standpoint to take on this problem is that it was essential to the tragedy's narrative progression. As Hanmer said "had he gone naturally to work, there would have been an end to our play!". Shakespeare, then, is faced with a problem - Hamlet must delay his revenge, and he has to come up with reasons why. The…show more content…
By doing this Hamlet hopes to receive a negative reception from the King, thus revealing the ugly burden on his conscience. The play, in depicting the King's guilt, does have a certain degree of success. His wish for the lights to come on and his order of "Away!" certainly suggest he was not feeling altogether comfortable in the situation, but there of course could have been a number of reasons for his minor distress. For Hamlet however it is sufficient, for in later conversation with Horatio he says, "I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound!" Hamlet has now secured in his mind that the Ghost was telling the truth, and so can have no doubt that revenge is what Claudius deserves. His delay however does not subside, so what can be his reason now? Much of his hesitation it seems comes as a result of his own self-doubt. He feels he lacks the powerful warrior image; the one which his Father and so many more do possess. In this respect feelings of inferiority paralyse him to take any action. One can see, in Hamlet's first soliloquy how insignificant he feels compared to his father when he says "no more like my father/Than I to Hercules". These feelings also apply to figures such as Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, who in his effort to regain his Father's lost land, leads an army of 'mass and charge". These actions of vengeance are ones
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