Hamlet: The Character Who Almost Could

Hamlet is probably the most well-known and referenced of Shakespeare’s plays. While it is a widely popular and highly acclaimed work, the main character definitely has some issues. Hamlet is a young prince who recently lost his father, had his uncle become king, and then marry his mother, Gertrude. This is a lot for a young man to go through in a very emotional couple of months, however, this does not excuse his ridiculous behavior or justify his foolish timing. Firstly, Hamlet is commissioned by his father’s ghost in Act 1 to enact revenge upon his uncle Claudius. Hamlet responds by swearing he will act swift and his revenge will be quick (1.5.25,29-31). Not only does Hamlet fail to keep his promise but he also fails to act swiftly when reminded by his father’s ghost yet again. In Act 3 his father’s ghost reappears again to remind Hamlet of his mission to avenge his father’s murder (3.4.110-11). Yet, Hamlet delays and seemingly forgets his revenge as he leaves for England and shows no plan to return. Fortunately for Hamlet, he is able to finally kill Claudius before he himself dies from the poisoned sword. Hamlet does nothing of his own accord to kill Claudius, but because Claudius had Laertes’s blade poisoned before the duel, Hamlet is able to stab the king in his dying moments. Secondly, as a result of Hamlet’s procrastination and forgetfulness lots of other people die. Polonius is mistaken for Claudius which leads to his accidental death by Hamlet. Ophelia becomes crazy and drowns after Hamlet confuses her with his craziness and also kills her father. Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are killed when Hamlet replaces their original orders with orders to have them executed. Finally, Gertrude and Laertes are the repercussions of the final duel between Hamlet and Laertes. Virtually everyone in the play who died would most likely still be alive if Hamlet had acted quicker and less foolishly. Since he played the part of a crazy person, his actions were confusing to those around him. The charade performed by Hamlet made him forget his main goal for the majority of the play which shows that if Hamlet had just simply carried out his revenge and killed Claudius, then most people would still be alive. It is because of Hamlet’s delays, forgetfulness and foolish actions that cause the play to end the way it does. Hamlet had so much potential, yet he throws it all away in the end.

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