Essay on The Character of Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

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The Character of Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Some critics have stated that the appeal of Hamlet to the audience is his many human weaknesses, the most notable being his indecision. His deliberations and procrastinations are particularly high-lighted when he is faced with the task of revenge. The law and Christianity, around the early seventeenth century, were clear in condemning personal revenge as an attempt by man to arrogate the prerogatives of God. Hamlet’s contradicting feelings toward avenging his father and avoiding breaking the law and going against Christianity were most likely felt by the Elizabethan audience also, which would have been made up of many Christians, namely,
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That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven.[3]

In this scene, Hamlet discovers Claudius praying; shows a will to perform his task of revenge, and yet he is unable to go through with it. Hamlet enters to find Claudius with his back to Hamlet. Tension is created within the audience, as the scene is portrayed as if the king is preparing for his execution, on his knees, praying, although he is unaware Hamlet is behind him with his sword drawn. It is the perfect opportunity, yet Hamlet deliberates. The scene results in an anti-climax, with Shakespeare creating drama with his ‘will he, won’t he’ tactic with regards to Hamlet.

I believe this is a prominent example of Hamlet’s inability to take action. Hamlet never receives any indication from Claudius that he regrets the death of Hamlet’s father, and by killing him, would send him to heaven. I think it most likely that Hamlet creates his own doubts, or excuses, as to delay with the revenge of his father. It could also be possible that Hamlet is fearful of the consequences of his act of vengeance. In ‘Antonio’s revenge’ and ‘The revenger’s tragedy’, the criminal is also the ruler. As was with these, the protagonist may be merely afraid of the consequences of treason.

The first
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