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Hamlet Essays

Hamlet's Delay

❶The inclusion of this news seems like deliberate overkill on Shakespeare's part, for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are relatively minor characters and we have already been led to surmise from Hamlet's report to Horatio that his duplicitous school chums have been sent to their death as an artifact of the Prince's ruse. The pressure on Hamlet to continue the line and Claudius' desire to keep the Prince off the throne come into direct conflict.

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William Shakespeare
From the SparkNotes Blog

Revenge is a constant theme throughout the plot. Not only does it underlie almost every scene, but it also has a major effect on the story as a whole.

These three revenge plots play a major role in presenting to the audience the theme of revenge through a series of developed plans to trick one another. Shakespeare first uses the revenge theme to create conflict between Hamlet and Claudius. In Act I, Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father, who makes Hamlet aware of his murderous death completed his brother. This is where Hamlet is first introduced to the revenge plot between himself and Claudius.

Hamlet wants to insure that the ghost really was his dead father before he kills Claudius. Hamlet wants to entrap the King by making him admit his actions. He returns to Elsinore threatening to overthrow Claudius if he does not explain the death of Polonius. Laertes conspires with the King to deceive Hamlet and challenge him to a fencing match, where Laertes will kill Hamlet with a poison-tipped rapier.

While Hamlet and Laertes are at opposing ends of the spectrum, however, Prince Fortinbras is in the middle. He assembles an army, and arranges plans to have that army march to Denmark.

The Prince tricks the King by explaining to Claudius that his army is simply marching through Denmark, and that he had no intentions on attacking it. He arrives, conveniently, soon after the carnage at Elsinore has unfolded. It is no coincidence that Fortinbras, who acts rationally and decisively, is the only one of the three characters to survive the play. Shakespeare uses Fortinbras to show that acting with rationality rather than on impulse or with excessive contemplation results in the superior end.

Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras are three individuals who were placed in a similar position, but who reacted in drastically different manners. Hamlet, who acts slowly and with much contemplation, and Laertes, who acts with reckless anger, represent polar opposites. A second response to this question challenges its underlying premises.

It proceeds from the counter-assertion that Hamlet does, in fact, act forcefully long before the play's final act.

By Act V, Hamlet has invented the "mousetrap" of the play-within-a-play, slain Polonius and dragged his corpse away, persuaded the off-stage pirates to release him from captivity, and cleverly arranged the demise of his erstwhile schoolmates, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Indeed, Hamlet casts aside the fears of Horatio and Marcellus about what awaits him when the Ghost beckons, and orders them to unhand him so that he can speak face-to-face with this awesome, fear-provoking figure. These prior acts are not those of a passive or timid soul.

Nevertheless, neither of these pat answers is sufficient to overcome our sense that Hamlet wavers in carrying out the commission laid upon him by the Ghost.

Not only does his excuse for not killing the king while he is at prayer ring hollow, Claudius's death in Act V is not the outcome of a truly deliberate act, but a seemingly chance occurrence brought about by circumstances that Hamlet's enemies have contrived. Our sense that Hamlet delays action is reinforced by his demeanor and, above all, by his own words.

When we first see the Prince on stage, dressed in black and self-exiled to the periphery of the court, he assumes the role of a critical observer making disparaging asides about Claudius and his consort. After learning of his uncle's crime, Hamlet comes into court in Act II, scene ii reading a book.

The association of Hamlet with "mere words" is strengthened by his penchant for ingenious but pointless verbal banter and highlighted by the inordinate number of soliloquies assigned to him by the playwright. Perhaps one of the most perplexing problems a modern audience may have with Shakespeare's Hamlet is the obvious question: The obvious but simple answer is that if he did not take his time, we would have 'Hamlet: The Short Story' instead of 'Hamlet: There are, however, valid reasons for Hamlet's slow behaviour.

Among them are his public role in the monarchy of Denmark, his education, and the environment of Elsinore. Hamlet is first and foremost the Prince of Denmark. There are no brothers or sisters, and he is the popular, well-liked son of an equally popular and well-liked King and Queen.

Not unlike the royal families of today, the royals of Elsinore have two lives—a public one and a private one, both of which are very much interlinked. Their lives as a whole are really not their own, yet their privacy is apparently a sacrifice they are willing to make to render service to Denmark. Hamlet's father, King Hamlet, had done much to ensure that Denmark was well protected.

His untimely death was marked by intense mourning at the court, as well it should have been for a man of his position. However, Gertrude's marriage to Claudius before a month of mourning had passed could be interpreted as a breach of protocol. This is why in the opening scenes, Claudius goes to such lengths to calm and soothe the concerns of the court.

When Hamlet returns to the court from school in Wittenburg, Germany, it is impossible that he can escape what awaits him. The tenants of this castle include the King's minister, Polonius, and his family, Laertes and Ophelia, as well as a coterie of government officials Cornelius and Voltemand , guards Marcellus and Bernardo and their companies , and courtiers Osric, for example.

In this environment, to have even a small amount of privacy is almost impossible since there is always someone somewhere. Such a transgression as the apparently unprovoked murder of a royal minister would open all sorts of questions for Claudius that he may be able to answer.

Even Hamlet's private life is of public concern, especially when it comes to his selection of a wife. Laertes tells Ophelia in no uncertain terms that her relationship with Hamlet is fruitless:. Perhaps he loves you now, And no soil nor cautel doth besmirch The virtue of his will; but you must fear, His greatness being weighed, his will is not his own.

For he himself is subject to his birth. He may not, as unvalued persons do, Carve for himself, for on his choice depends The safety and health of this whole state, And therefore must his choice be circumscribed Unto the voice and yielding of that body Whereof he is the head. The selection of a future queen is an issue at the very core of a monarchy's survival. On the political side, it was common practice to cement peace treaties with a marriage between two ruling houses.

A wife's main function as queen was to produce a male heir for the King. In a kingdom like Denmark, which had an elected monarchy, it was doubly important that a future king be suitably matched for the peace and stability of the country.

Gertrude has produced Hamlet; however, the possibility of a direct heir for Claudius is remote, if not impossible, as Hamlet says: The pressure on Hamlet to continue the line and Claudius' desire to keep the Prince off the throne come into direct conflict. Ophelia, as the daughter of a minister, cannot bring either wealth or security to a marriage with Hamlet.

Although Hamlet's profession of love at her funeral is moving and sincere, it is unlikely that they would have been allowed to marry Since the first staging of Hamlet , the very name of Ophelia has become nearly synonymous with that form of female madness that was once termed "melancholia" and marked by a nostalgic state of depression, a dissociation from reality, and a self-destructive drive. Not only does Shakespeare's Ophelia display all of these symptoms, the change that we see in her is shocking.

Prior to her re-appearance as a mad woman in Act IV, scene v, Ophelia is first presented in Act I, scene iii in a carefully balanced exchange with her brother, Laertes. She then proves herself to be a sensible daughter to Polonius, agreeing to end her budding romance with Prince Hamlet. These are powerful traumatic blows, and the gist of mad Ophelia's ditties and ramblings about lost love and death underscores their mutual confusion in her distracted mind.

But Shakespeare did not create the character of Ophelia to serve as a clinical case study in female dementia; there is more to her madness than lost love and a father's death can explain. Throughout the play, Shakespeare reminds us that Ophelia and Hamlet were lovers before its opening act. The fact of Hamlet's one-time affection for Ophelia is ironically affirmed in the rejection scene that begins Act III.

And, finally, at her burying ground, as he grapples with Laertes, Hamlet declares, "I lov'd Ophelia. But Shakespeare never shows us the two as lovers and the only direct reflection of their romance appears in a love letter poem written by Hamlet in which he entreats Ophelia to "never doubt I love you" II, ii.

The words of this piece and the sentiment it conveys, however, are oddly trite and banal, especially in light of the verbal facility that a deep Hamlet has already disclosed in Act I. Moreover, in his first soliloquy I, ii , Hamlet proclaims "Frailty, thy name is woman! The woman that Hamlet has in mind is, of course, his mother Gertrude, and her "frailty" lies in her hasty widow's marriage to her husband's brother.

But Hamlet couches this oath in generic terms and makes no exclusion of Ophelia, for whom the word "frailty" proves a far more accurate descriptor. All of this casts some doubt about the strength of Hamlet's love for Ophelia and the significance of his rejection of her as a cause of her insanity.

This suggests that lost love is not the event that triggers Ophelia's madness, but that it is the death of her beloved father, Polonius, which pushes her beyond the brink. Laertes finds this to be the case IV, v. Yet at the same time, Ophelia's songs and her dissociated statements abound with lewd puns that are strongly reminiscent of Hamlet's cruel, sexual wordplay in Act III, scene i.

Indeed, when Laertes says that his sister's madness is the result of her love for Polonius, not only does this ring in an association with Hamlet, At the conclusion of Hamlet , as the Prince, Laertes, Claudius and Gertrude all lie dead, an ambassador from England arrives on the scene with the blunt report that "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead" V, ii. The inclusion of this news seems like deliberate overkill on Shakespeare's part, for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are relatively minor characters and we have already been led to surmise from Hamlet's report to Horatio that his duplicitous school chums have been sent to their death as an artifact of the Prince's ruse.

The phrase itself would serve as the title of modern playwright Tom Stoppard's black comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead , in which the two characters are resurrected as


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- Hamlet: Vengeance and Family Honor In the play of Hamlet the main theme is the theme of vengeance and the need of the characters to protect their family's honor. This does not only have to do with Hamlet himself but is also illustrated in two other important characters of the play, Laertes and Fortinbras.

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Explore the different themes within William Shakespeare's tragic play, Hamlet. Themes are central to understanding Hamlet as a play and identifying Shakespeare's social and political commentary. Mortality. The weight of one's mortality and the complexities of life and death are .

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Jan 26,  · Guilt is a reoccurring theme in Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that is demonstrated by various characters including, Dunstable Ramsay, Paul Dempster, Hamlet and Claudius and this essay shall compare the . Hamlet study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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Shakespeare first uses the revenge theme to create conflict between Hamlet and Claudius. In Act I, Hamlet is visited by the ghost of his father, who makes Hamlet aware of his murderous death completed his brother. The ghost says this to Hamlet regarding Claudius, “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, I, v, 25). There are many overlapping themes that all relate back to Hamlet's madness, specifically including death, obsession, and betrayal. Nature of Hamlet. The underlying theme of madness is represented quite often in the play. In the play, Hamlet exhibits a puzzling nature. Hamlet contradicts himself throughout out .