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What Causes Hamlet to Delay Killing Claudius?

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What causes Hamlet to delay killing Claudius?

What really causes Hamlet to delay killing King Claudius? Is it because he's afraid of what the impact might be, or does he just gain certainty before he acts? When Hamlet is first approached by his fathers ghost he is told that he must get revenge... "If though didst ever thy dear father love--Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." According to John C. McCloskey, Instead of acting immediately upon the ghosts commands, Hamlet first achieves certainty and then he acts. Throughout the play you may notice that most of the characters achieve certainty and then they act, even Laertes, except for his first impulsive act, he delays until he is sure and postpones his vengeance on both the King and Hamlet. The King also delays until he is sure that the time is right. None of the characters act until they have achieved certainty. In Hamlets first long soliloquy not knowing himself why he delays inflicting revenge upon the king he asks himself: (end of Act II, Scene II)

"Ay, so, God buy you. Now I am alone.

Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

Is it not monstrous that this player here,

But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,

Could force his soul so to his whole conceit

That from her working all his visage wanned,

Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting

With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! ...."

Since Hamlet is not aware of the reason for his delay, you can not jump to conclusions and say that it was his conscience that holds him back from acting. "Hamlet is like a soldier that is thrown into a war where he has to do some things he rather would avoid doing, but under the given circumstances he bites his teeth and carries himself well (Stratford, 128). Being a loyal prince and son, and one whom entire kingdom respected, he feels that he is forced to follow through with getting revenge, and getting justice back in the royal court.

In the opening scenes of the play, the Ghost of Hamlets father reveals to him the true means by which he had died. The Ghost tells Hamlet that he was killed by his brother Claudius, which he had poisoned him. Hamlet wants to be absolutely sure that he is doing the right thing by listening to the ghost and avenging his father's death. This after all could be a trick of the Devil (end of Act I Scene II, "My father's spirit in arms! All is not well; I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!") The Ghost prompts Hamlet to avenge the murder that was committed, which Hamlet's first response was to act on the Ghost commands quickly. "Haste me to know't that I, with wings as swift as meditation or the thought of love, may sweep to my revenge."

Hamlet had many opportunities to kill the king, but waited for the right moment so that justice could be served, and one thing that was more than likely going through Hamlets mind was that if he killed the King right off it would definitely not be revenge and he would not know the truth of his fathers death and he would have no way of being certain if the ghost was lying or not, Hamlet states this in "If King is murdered, the truth is murdered too, and King Hamlet's assassination would be impossible to prove". His aim was not to kill the King and get the throne, but concerned with punishing the murderer of



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