Hamlet's Indecisiveness in Shakespeare Research Paper

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Hamlet's Indecisiveness In Shakespeare's Hamlet

In the English language, William Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights having produced up to 37 plays during his life time with classifications under comedy, tragedy or history. Shakespeare's greatest and most popular tragedy is Hamlet which shows his playwright genius as an unusual number of literary techniques and themes have been found by the scholars and critics alike. Hamlet is about the king of Denmark murder and the quest for revenge by his son who unfortunately is also murdered. Hamlet who is the main character in the play has a flaw that turns out to be tragic to him. This tragic flaw hinders his desired revenge and eventually leads to his death. He is made a tragic hero by this tragic flaw and a destroyed character by his key weakness. It is evident that if wasn't for his tragic flaw then his death could have been averted at the end. This paper will try to analyze the indecisiveness of Hamlet in the play which is evident in the third soliloquy when after he sees a play and observes the passion which the actors had. His indecisiveness when he fails to avenge his father's death in the fourth soliloquy will also be evaluated as well as his hesitation to separate his mother from Claudius who was responsible for his father's death. The paper will describe the weak emotional state of Hamlet as the reason for his indecisiveness among other circumstances. Finally the paper will evaluate how Hamlet's indecisiveness is his tragic flaw when it causes his death ("Hamlet: Themes").

First the indecisive flaw of hamlet is evident when a play is seen by Hamlet and in particular the passion that one of the actor had. The Murder of Gonzago personal viewing is arranged by Hamlet after the arrival of a group of players and a small part of his lines are inserted. A great display of emotion is put up by one of the players which Hamlet observes. Self-contempt and guilt overwhelms Hamlet and in his second soliloquy of Hamlet remarks about the emotion displayed by the player despite the fact that there was no reasons for the player to be emotional for. He observes that he could compare with the player's act because he fails to exhibit any emotion yet he could have rightfully reacted with intense sorrow and emotion. Hamlet refers to himself as a "rogue and a peasant slave" and a muddy-mettled and dull rascal who cannot take action just like a John-a-dreams. He continues degrading himself in his fiery speech and decides to do something to revenge the death of his father (Phillip 281).

After the third soliloquy, we see the indecisiveness of Hamlet whereby the famous lines are of "To be or not to be" is used (III.i.53.). The tragic flaw of Hamlet is identified directly by him when he remarks about his own acting inability. The presentation of the 'The Murder of Gonzago' to the royal court is schemed by Hamlet when he is not sure about the role of his uncle in the murder of his father and he incorporates some changes so that they would be similar circumstances to behind the murder. Hamlet talks about death when his guilt is reflected by him and makes reference to it as a country which has never been discovered and his feelings are incessantly riddled by him. He proclaims that we are not all made cowards by conscience and that one's intent natural ruddy complexion or an action resolutions is 'sickled' by thought which is pale. The individual's indecisiveness makes his action to be second guessed by him and at times takes no action. There was foreshadowing on what was to occur by theses statements and they also applied to what had happed up to that point.

In the fourth soliloquy we can also see the indecisive flaw of Hamlet. The Prince of Norway, Fortinbras together with his army has passed Hamlet with his escorts. Fortinbras action of fighting is seen by Hamlet and he studies Fortinbras bravery and effort so as his revenge desire against Claudius for the death of his father can be rekindled. Hamlet does not take any action yet he remarks how there are attempts to "spur my dull revenge" by everything around him. He observes that he thinks accurately about the event and that he possesses the will, cause, means and strengths to avenge his father and how the killer of his father, Claudius is pointed by evidence which is as clear as the earth itself. He ultimately resolves that "my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!" And that action must be taken against Claudius in fashion or form.

Hamlet's indecision is widely accepted as his tragic flaw because it is hard for him to pass from a thought to action and what he can do today he puts it till tomorrow. However some scholars have tried to defend the indecision of Hamlet saying that the chain of event that he couldn't stop was as a result of his stabbing of Polonius while thinking it was Claudius. The bloodbath that ensured could have been averted if he had hesitated at that particular moment just like the other times before taking action. The other reason for defending the indecisiveness of Hamlet is the conflict of loyalty that he has. There is compulsion for avenging his father while he also desires to salvage his mother's honor vestiges. In this attempt he encourages his mother to relinquish the marriage that she has with Claudius. But she cannot do so because according to her honor refers to saving face (Burch 46).

Hamlet's indecisiveness can be seen through his poor state of mind. An overwhelming impression is created by the play that Hamlet's indecisiveness that led to his suicidal and nihilist perception of the world is unreasonable and it causes him unnecessary problems. Although falling into a state of melancholy by Hamlet after his father's death is understandable, his suicidal propensity and questions like whether the mind suffering the arrows and slings of despicable fortune is noble or who would handle the scorns or time and whips shows Hamlet's delicate emotional state (III.i.54). Hamlet deranged and unstable mind can be seen from these thoughts even if they are not a flaw in themselves. Hamlet's agitated state of mind is the source of the aggressive and abusive outburst towards Ophelia of whom he loves. At times the controlling of his emotions becomes difficult for Hamlet and his weak state of mind is demonstrated by his abnormal behavior. The noble character of Hamlet is questioned because he plunges into a moody and dark state because of his grief which should have instead fuelled his determination to pursue justice for his father. This weak emotional state is the cause for his indecisiveness. More trouble is generated for Hamlet by his antic disposition which serves little purpose and his weak emotional state could have triggered his presumed feigned madness.

The tragic flaw of Hamlet is overcome by him at the end of the play and a transfiguration is achieved by him but it's observed to be too late because his Claudius is well aware of his plots at this time and also wants to kill him too. Transfiguration in literary terms refers to when a trait is acquired by a protagonist which they triumph over their tragic flaw by its elevation. Hamlet quits thinking too much and also worrying about his consequences and ultimately leaves fate to decide his future. This change is made by Hamlet because he was being pushed him over the edge by the more he thought about his mother and Claudius being together, the death of his father which was untimely, drowning of Ophelia and his lack of ability to do what needs to be done. He actually concludes that, "There is no special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; is it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come" (V.ii.116) just before his goes onto a fight with Laertes. The overcoming of the flaw by Hamlet is seen here when he resigns to the fact that what is to happen will happen. The death of his mother causes him much rage that he kills Claudius and Laertes (Thomas 49).

We can see Hamlet's indecisiveness to keep his mother away from Claudius and this can be explained by the underlying love that he has for his mother. Even though Ophelia is being pursued by Hamlet and his mother gets yelled at by him, deep inside he is in love with Gertrude. Hamlet cannot and may never admit this but this is highly supported by many proofs for its complete denial. Unfortunately for him, incest is banned by the society therefore even if it's a normal and natural desire of the mother by the son, there is not acceptance of it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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