Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2002

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In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the main character, being Hamlet himself, continually delays acting out his duty of avenging his father's murders. Both his nature and his morals prevent him from carrying out certain tasks.

In the opening scenes of the play, the Ghost of Hamlets deceased father reveals to Hamlet the means by which King Hamlet died, and that revenge must be taken. He tells him that Claudius, who was presently Hamlets uncle, stepfather, and the present king, caused his father's death. His initial response was to act on the Ghost's demands quickly. Hamlet says "Haste me to know't that I with wings as swift"¦May sweep to my revenge."� On the contrary, he does the exact opposite and by the end of the same scene, he becomes evidently reluctant to murder King Claudius. He states that " This time is out of joint, O cursed spite, that I was ever born to set it right."�

One theory as to why Hamlet delays in avenging the king is that he first wants to make sure that it was really Claudius that killed his father, before he acts. Questioning the ghost's truth, he says in act 2:2 that " The spirit I have seen may be a devil."� To test his knowledge, Hamlet plans a "play within a play,"� which will determine if Claudius is guilty. The set of this play revolves around the murder of his father, and when the king views it, he runs out of the room, revealing his guilt to Hamlet. After stating his proof as "I'll take the ghosts word for a thousand pound,"� Hamlet fails to act and only ponders over the occurrence. Similarly, when Hamlet has the chance to kill Claudius when he is praying, he makes excuses why he shouldn't, instead of taking the best...