accusation?? The easiest answer is that if Hamlet had done so, the play would
have ended in Act I. And then "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" would be a
"Shakespearean Tragedy," *A. C. Bradley describes "Hamlet"
then asks the question, "But why in the world did not Hamlet obey the ghost
at once, and so save seven of those eight lives?" The answer to this
question lies not in the fact that had Hamlet done so the play would have ended
it that delays Hamlet from acting on his father’s ghost’s command? Let’s look at
some typical views. Is it the fact that at that moment Claudius is surrounded by
courtiers and his Swiss guard? No, for throughout the play Hamlet never refers
Act IV, scene 4 that he has "…cause and will and strength and means To
organizes the play within the play not to persuade others of Claudius’s guilt,
but to convince himself: "if ‘a do blench, I know my course." (Act II,
scene 2). Throughout the play, Hamlet never talks of public justice. He talks
2) Hamlet’s mission and his purpose is to kill his uncle, not to bring him to
the bar of justice. Would slaying Claudius trouble Hamlet’s conscience? Not at
acting quickly: "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!" (Act 2, scene
2) and "How all occasions do inform against me," (Act 4, scene 4).
whips out his sword and thrusts, unhesitatingly through the curtain. He sends
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths without a second thought. When his
ship is attacked by pirates, Hamlet is the first to board the pirate ship. He
fights with Laertes in Ophelia’s grave, duels with Laertes, and, dying himself,
runs the king through completing his mission. Does Hamlet simply substitute
thought for action? As we have seen, Hamlet is a man of action. Why, then does
he not act promptly in executing his father’s ghost’s command? A.C. Bradley
offers this explanation: ?Hamlet has received a violent shock to his moral
excellent a king,? (Act I, scene 2) His mother has shown what to Hamlet is a
despicable nature-marrying almost immediately following Hamlet’s father’s death:
?O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer.?
(Act I, scene 2) and has married a man Hamlet finds utterly hateful and
"Popped in between th’ election and my hopes," (Act V, scene 2).
mind and impregnates in Hamlet a despair of human nature. To Hamlet, life is
?. . .an unweeded garden That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature
possess it merely.? (Act I, scene 2) Thus weakened, Hamlet is unable to act on
his father’s ghost’s command. So after all is said and done I wonder if we have
truly found the answer we were looking for or is it simply put as this: ?The
central question of the play is, a question without an answer if one is seeking
the answer within the play. Shakespeare was supposed to supply us with an
answer, or at least with a reason why there is no answer. He offers us neither.
Instead, this most famed of Shakespeare’s plays offers us a literary mystery
Eliot has called ?Hamlet? the "’Mona Lisa’ of literature." Like
the painting, the play smiles at us from a distance but refuses to be formulated
or simply understood; everything about it is problematic, not only the events of
them. And for those who persist in analyzing the plot of the drama, or Hamlet’s
psychology, or both in order to explain this particular mystery, I suggest
of the author encompass your soul and enjoy it for what it?s worth.
A. C. Bradley, "Shakespeare’s Tragic Period-Hamlet," Shakespearean
Tragedy, MacMillan and Company Limited, 1904, pp. 70-101