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Hamlets Mind Stops Him From Acting English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1124 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The play Hamlet is a typical revenge play where the protagonist must revenge someone or something that has done wrong to him. However in the play Hamlet changes this because he cannot bring himself to kill his uncle. Throughout the play he delays this by thinking of reason after reason to not killing his uncle which could suggest he is scared and does not actually want to kill his uncle he is just trying to fulfil his fathers will. Hamlet is an example of an indecisive person who thinks too much and acts too little. In this essay I will examine how Hamlets mind stops him from acting.

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Hamlet’s indecisive mind is presented excessively throughout the soliloquies. We learn his motives and thoughts through this. In the first few soliloquys Hamlet is portrayed as a confused person because his thoughts are not straight forward but after Hamlet meets the pirates he begins to express his points and feelings better to the reader. The soliloquys show Hamlet questioning his aims and failing to act e.g. in act 3 scene one Hamlet expresses his views on death but comes to the conclusion that suicide is not the answer to his problems.

In Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’ he contemplates whether or not he should take action and commit suicide. This is shown in the first line ‘to live or not to live’ which shows he is questioning his life or death and considering what would be better for him. Hamlet considers which is better living or dying. He thinks men would want to kill themselves if they had to go through ‘slings and arrows’ but they would fear what would happen to them in the afterlife. Hamlet also discusses that he feels that thinking of those things make people turn into cowards this theory stops him from committing suicide. Hamlet discusses if staying alive is better than committing suicide ‘to die, to sleep… by a sleep to say we end … The heartache and the thousand natural shocks…’Hamlet realises that with sleep come dreams and the dreams of the afterlife may be worse than the actual life, he avoids this unknown. Hamlet expresses the fact that he is a coward and scared about the unfairness in the afterlife and he is not able to act.

A ghost that resembles the recently deceased king of Denmark haunts the castle and Horatio tells Hamlet. Hamlet changes in Act 1 Scene 4 as he is decisive because he is advised that he should not go and see the ghost because it was not trust worthy. Hamlet stands up to them and follows the ghosts. Hamlet is convinced at first it is his father but later believes that it could be the devil or something else. In Act 2 Scene 2 when Hamlet sees the player and begins to start condemning himself for not showing as much emotion as the player. In this Scene Hamlet reveals his fear that Claudius might not be guilty, that the Ghost might be lying. Hamlet has a reason for his inaction due to lack of evidence.

Hamlet delays killing Claudius again in Act 3 Scene 3, throughout the soliloquy’s Hamlet makes up a lot of excuses to not killing Claudius. In this soliloquy religion is his excuse. Hamlet feels if he kills Claudius whist he is praying he will go to heaven so it would not be a true revenge. This is one of the first soliloquy’s in which Hamlet was ready to kill Claudius but doesn’t because he thinks too much. The title statement reflects this because his mind stops him from acting in many ways because as he is about to Act he stops to think about other things.

Another Act where he stops acting because he is thinking too much is the soliloquy is when he meets the player. Hamlet is subconsciously trying to stall his aim which is killing Claudius. He starts off this by saying “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” which already put himself down saying he is not able to kill the king which in turn makes him put off killing the king. In this soliloquy Hamlet is emotionally troubled when he sees the player. “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba that he should weep for her?” this quotation shows that Hamlet is angry at himself that he cannot show such emotion that the player has shown for a fictional character called Hecuba. Hamlet feels that how can a man with such strength weep when he is a man with more emotion but cannot express it; he has not got the courage or strength to do his duty which is to kill his uncle. Hamlet is subconsciously preventing himself from acting in this soliloquy. At this moment Hamlet thinks he is a coward and calls himself one but as he describes King Claudius as a “bloody, bawdy villain,” Hamlet recognises that he’s still not acting. When Hamlet decides that he will replay his fathers death (“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”) to see if his uncle is guilty is showing that he is trying to put off the truth that his uncle killed his father and finding ways to stall.

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In Act 4 Scene 4 Hamlet’s soliloquy is about him killing Claudius. Hamlet is talking over what he should have done which is killed his uncle, but he has not. He questions himself and realises it is something that has to be done. In this soliloquy he knows he must kill Claudius but it is Fortinbras’ story which convinced him that it is what he needs to do. Fortinbras had so much devotion to saving a tiny piece of land in Poland and Hamlet does not seem to show any action to killing Claudius. When Fortinbras sacrifices his army to save something so little Hamlet feels envious again like with the player because Hamlet cannot show emotion or Act when these people he sees in his life care about so little. Fortinbras is doing this for honour as the land is not worth enough to be fought over, this makes Hamlet think about his honour and honouring his father by killing his murderer. In the last lines of the Soliloquy Hamlet says ‘… from this time fort, may my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth’, this statement tells us that Hamlet has been decisive and is now solely devoted to avenging his father’s death.

Ultimately Hamlet is an indecisive person as he is not able to kill Claudius initially and he is not able to do this until he is dying because of Claudius. Through the soliloquys we are told of Hamlet’s thoughts and feelings towards his aim of killing Claudius. The play shows us how a person can change their mind by questioning themselves excessively, as Hamlet does. The ghost tells us how humans can be confused by a familiar figure because Hamlet knows it is his father but begins questioning this as the play develops.


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