How far do you agree that Hamlet’s hesitation to kill Claudius in Act Three is underpinned by religious reasons? Of all the different motives Shakespeare presents for Hamlet’s lack of action, which seems to be the most important?
Critics have attempted to explain Hamlet’s delay in avenging his father for centuries and the most relevant scene to illustrate Hamlet’s hesitation is in Act Three when Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius but doesn’t. Hamlet says at the time that he does
“this same villain send
It could be said that Hamlet is deliberately delaying his revenge for fear of actually committing it. However, religion was a focal part of people’s lives at the time the play was set and at the time it was…show more content… Hamlet discusses Claudius’ reaction to the play with Horatio and says:
“I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound.”
In other words, he believes the ghost’s accusation. This leaves Hamlet as being a coward or as a fervent revenger without opportunity.
Another interesting thing that happens at this part of the play is that the Player King unintentionally refers to Hamlet’s inaction:
“What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.”
The Player seems to be saying that Hamlet only made his pledge to avenge his father on the spur of the moment when he was blinded by passion and that now that immediacy of the ghost’s accusation has faded he lacks conviction.
Shakespeare sprinkles subtle lines alluding to Hamlet’s apparent cowardice and failure as a classical revenger. In addition to this, Shakespeare may intentionally delay Hamlet’s revenge and remove emphasis from his passion to break the trend of morally blind, obsessive, psychopathic avengers as traditionally depicted in plays such as “The Spanish Tragedy”.
It is ironic that Hamlet doesn’t kill the King whilst he is praying because before Hamlet enters Claudius reveals in his soliloquy how useless he feels that his prayer of repentance is:
“but O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? ’Forgive