Hamlet s Fickleness
After reading Hamlet my contention is that Hamlet s indecisiveness and inability to distinguish between what is moral and what is not leads to his demise. Throughout the play Hamlet acts in a fickle manner. At one point Hamlet sits and contemplates all the consequences for each and every action that he might commit and all the ramifications of those actions. He is able to rationally act in a manner of passion and anger. It appears that Hamlet truly wants to avenge his father s murder, and yet he is incapable of devising a plan and following through with it. He matures from a desiring murderer in the first act to a cold-blooded murderer in the final act. Hamlet s focus and anger in the play wavers back and forth, from philosopher to killer, until act 5 when he is faced with death himself.
In the first act, Hamlet, just recently hearing the horrendous news of his father, is not morally and emotionally ready to act on the command of his father s spirit; to revenge his foul and most unnatural murder . Hamlet, grieving the death of his father, suffers from the pain of solitude. Gertrude has married Claudius, only a little month after the death of Hamlet s father. This troubles Hamlet greatly and a feeling of powerlessness flourishes in him. He sees the world as an unweeded garden and feels that his mother s act cannot come to good . Hamlet does feel that there is hope and he displays this hope by following the Ghost, despite the warning from his close friends Horatio and Marcellus. He feels that by following the Ghost he can only gain and has nothing to lose, for my soul, what can it do to that? Hamlet s sickness shows when he learns the truth of the situation from the Ghost. Hamlet knew all along, deep down inside, that there was something wrong, something hideous was foreshadowed, my prophetic soul . But he did not know how deep it really had dug itself into his own life. Hamlet seeks release but does not know where to look for it, he desperately wants to, wipe away all pressures past . He wants to satisfy the revenge but seems to feel that he cannot, O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right! Hamlet looks to the angels and ministers of grace , for help. He needs to know that whatever he does, wicked or charitable , he will not pay, for his intents are good. He knows what he needs to do but it comes in a questionable shape . Hamlet feels that it is so horridly to shake our disposition ; this displays that he is not yet ready to kill. He is not yet willing or ready to change and mature into a murderer, despite his vow to revenge his father s death.
In the second act, Hamlet realizes that he has not concentrated enough focus on avenging his father s murder and has not proven to himself that revenge needs to occur. The moral Hamlet needs to insure himself, if he is going to kill King Claudius, whether or not the Ghost is legitimate. To do this he devises a plan using a company of actors to put on a play. Hamlet carefully designs the play to contain details of Claudius s horrendous actions as told to him by the Ghost. Hamlet will force his soul to his own conceit , he will then know whether revenge is necessary. Hamlet begins to become enraged, he lists in his head all the horrid stuff that Claudius and Gertrude have done and yet he hasn t acted. He starts questioning his own strength, am I a coward? Concerned that if Claudius is guilty, will he be able to act. Hamlet has been prompted by heaven and hell to revenge the death of his father and he is unsure as to whether he can do it or not. Hamlet condemns himself and decides that it is most brave to kill for the sake of his father. Being the son of a dear father murdered it is not only brave but also crucial for honor and personal self interests. Hamlet has started to move in the direction of a capable murderer but is still bound by his fear of killing and constant philosophizing.
In the third act, Hamlet, too consciences of killing in vein, uses the play to check the truth behind the Ghost s word, insurance for himself that the murder of Claudius will not be a mistake. When Claudius watches the play he reacts, as any guilty man, to the reenactment of his horrible deeds. Certain that Claudius is guilty; Hamlet now realizes that revenge is essential. He approaches the mind set of a murderer but cannot kill face to face. Hamlet has become enraged with the fury that has slowly built up over time. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unable to find the cause of Hamlet s madness and Ophelia falls victim to the wicked words of Hamlet s madness. In Act 3 Sc. 4, Hamlet is finally able to kill Polonius, despite the fact that it was cowardly, quick-tempered, and actually a mistake. Once he is able to bring himself to the point of murdering, anything can be justified. Hamlet no longer has the ability to use God or any other excuses to prevent himself from killing Claudius; he has killed before. Hamlet has taken the first step in the direction of revenge.
In the fourth act, Hamlet finally is ready to act and has developed enough anger to avenge his father s murder. Claudius hears the news of Polonius s death from Gertrude and now he fears Hamlet; how dangerous is it that this man goes loose! Claudius s plan is to send Hamlet to England where he will be killed by the English crown, ridding the worries of Claudius. About to board the ship, Hamlet passes the army of Fortinbras preparing for battle. This troubles Hamlet, he sees other people doing something about their problems and he has still accomplished nothing. He uses Fortinbras as motivation for the revenge of his father s murder. Hamlet s father killed and mother stained and he has done nothing. While he foreshadows the death of twenty thousand soldiers, going off to battle, fighting for a cause. Hamlet has the cause, and will, and strength, and means to do it and has convinced himself that he will now act. From this point on Hamlet s thoughts will be bloody or be nothing worth . The news of Hamlet s return to Denmark spreads rapidly and Claudius prepares himself.
In the final act, Hamlet avenges the death of his father but only after the recognition of his own death is guaranteed. The graveyard scene is the first time we see Hamlet s true feelings; I have in me something dangerous . Hamlet accepts the challenge of a dull between himself and Laertes, suggested by Osric to King Claudius. The actions of Hamlet from this point on are rash and the maturity of a murderer has finally developed. Hamlet will soon display his changed being which he earlier thought was impossible. He is now acting on pure adrenaline, no thoughts, except bloody ones are being processed. No options except death are being considered. Hamlet s skill in fighting allows him to gain the sword of Laertes and gain the advantage. Laertes, dying from the poisoned sword, confesses Claudius s plan to Hamlet. Hamlet, realizes his death is inevitable and present, reacts quickly and forces Claudius to drink from the poisoned cup that killed Gertrude. Finally revenge has been blessed upon Hamlet but at great cost.
Clearly Hamlet does not immediately take action and kill Claudius, the shameful man that has caused great harm to him. Instead Hamlet wobbles on a seesaw between murder and suffering. If he murders he will commit a sin against God but if he takes no action he will shame his father s name. All along Hamlet does feel that the revenge of his father s murder must occur but the moral problems that are attached make his decision incredibly hard. Hamlet is not a killer by nature. Manipulation by the Ghost and his own mind, Hamlet is transformed from a cowardly philosophizer, truly wanting to gain revenge, into an insane desperate man, committing murder. Throughout the play Hamlet clearly vacillates between philosophizing and killing until he is forced to make a decision when his own life has been jeopardized.