Hamlet Character Analysis

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Peter Smith 4-12-00 Character Analysis; Hamlet's Indecision What makes Shakespeare's masterpiece Hamlet the successful play it is, is the indecision of Hamlet himself. The ending of the play could have occurred much earlier and maybe without such tragedy if Hamlet would have taken the incentive to do what he vowed to ghost to do, kill Claudius. Hamlet's indecision creates the downward spiral that leads to his own tragedy and the tragedy of those surrounding him. His indecision is at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes, Ophelia, his love, and even his own mother, Gertrude. Hamlet has multiple opportunities to avenge his father's death previous to the deaths of these characters. However, as the play shows, Hamlet chooses not to act again and again for one reason or another, and the chain of circumstances catches up, in the cataclysmic, sanguine, heart-wrenching climax in the final scene.

Moreover, Hamlet is responsible for the tragic nature of the play. Hamlet's inability to act results in his own demise and the demise of others.

The first instance of Hamlet's incapacity to take action against Claudius comes after Hamlet's encounter with his father's ghost. In the encounter Hamlet learns of his father's murder and vows "Haste me to know't, that I with wings as swift as meditation or thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge." (Shakespeare 1:5). Ironically, as the progression of the play illustrates, Hamlet's revenge is anything but swift. Instead Hamlet is indecisive and doubts the integrity of the spirit. Hamlet could well have even killed Claudius before his rendezvous with his father's apparition with due cause based on the incestuous marriage that so quickly followed his father's death. Yet Hamlet does not act and his reluctance to immediately dispatch Claudius marks the beginning of his downfall...