The Real Reason Hamlet Died English Literature Essay


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There are many procrastinators in the world, and it has never come to any good. Many times, people make the mistake to procrastinate, and things are always rushed, or not done to the best ability. Sometimes things are not even done at all. With procrastination in mind, there are lots of examples of this in one famous, well-known play, which eventually leads to a depressing end. In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Hamlet dies in the last scene due to his own doing. In every soliloquy, Hamlet shows that he always makes excuses, over thinks things, and overall, is a procrastinator. It is because of his own character flaw that he dies.

Procrastination is evident after the first soliloquy and follows into the second. Hamlet finds out that Claudius killed his father and his father, in ghost form, asks Hamlet to seek revenge for him. Two months have passed, and Hamlet still has not done anything. That shows complete procrastination on Hamlet's part. When the actors come, Hamlet sees the passion and feeling in the actors' words, yet it is just imaginary. He thinks about what would happen if they had the motive and passion that he has. Hamlet realizes that he is just a dull-spirited, dreaming coward without plans for revenge; he should have filled the bellies of the region's hawks with Claudius' guts, but he still hasn't. Repeatedly, he over thinks too much and says lots of things, but still doesn't act. Reflecting on his inaction, Hamlet states, "Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,/ That I, the son of the dear murder'd,/ Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,/ Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,/ And fall a cursing, like a very drab,/ A scullion!" (2.2.580-585). Hamlet states that it is brave for him to seek revenge for his father, but he isn't doing anything about it. He does, however, finally take one step forward by asking the players to act out the scene of his father's death. Hamlet thinks that, "The play's the thing/ Wherein [he'll] catch the conscience of the king" (2.2.602-603). Technically, this is a step forward in killing Claudius, but he is still making excuses and procrastinating by trying to find out if the ghost of his father was really telling the truth.

Again, Hamlet shows signs of talking himself down and letting his emotions get to him, leading to his downfall. Now that Hamlet knows for sure that Claudius killed his father, he is still not seeking revenge, and still thinking of suicide (which he doesn't act upon because he is a procrastinator). He knows that he is constantly over thinking since he comments in the third soliloquy, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, / And thus the native hue of resolution/ Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought." (3.1.84-86). Over and over again, Hamlet talks himself out of acting and makes more and more excuses not to act. He should have killed Claudius already, but he hasn't acted yet. Hamlet has hesitated so long that Claudius is very suspicious at this point and basically knows that Hamlet knows what he has done. Soon, Hamlet's time will become short because Claudius now recognizes that Hamlet will be a danger to him, and Claudius will do something about it.

Unlike Claudius, Hamlet postpones his actions yet again, which are evident in this fourth soliloquy. Claudius at this point knows that he may be found out, and feels guilty. Claudius tries to pray, but he is not actually praying because he knows that he will not be forgiven. He will not stop benefiting from his sins and therefore won't be forgiven. Hamlet, right at this point would have had the perfect opportunity to end Claudius' life, but he makes an excuse that he wants to kill him in the act of doing something bad so that he will die a damned soul and won't go to heaven. He doesn't know that Claudius is actually not forgiven for his sins, and is still a bad man. Hamlet wants to kill him, "When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, / Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed, / At gaming, swearing, or about some act / That has no relish of salvation in't: / Then trip him," (3.3.90-94). Hamlet is thinking so much about catching Claudius doing a sinful act to kill him, that he is not realizing that Claudius is starting to make plans to kill him. In this way, Hamlet will come to his downfall because of his flaw.

Finally, in the last soliloquy, Hamlet shows possible potential to finally do something, but is still only talking about it and has yet to make a plan. This gives more evidence that his neglect is causing his misfortunes to come. Hamlet is unsure if he has not acted due to forgetfulness, or cowardly hesitation, but sees that he has so much cause for his revenge, but has done nothing. His causes for revenge are: his father was killed by Claudius, his mother was married to Claudius, and it has caused him much emotional distress. Seeing the army of Fortinbras march through to fight for a cause that was just for their honour, Hamlet is ashamed of himself for not acting. He questions, "How stand I then, / That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd, / Excitements of my reason and my blood, / And let all sleep," (4.4.55-58). Hamlet is feeling the emotions of a procrastinator that knows that they should have done whatever they had to do a long time ago.

In conclusion, there is evidence of thinking over things too much, making every excuse there was, and procrastinating for so long that finally, Hamlet just ran out of time, barely finishing the job. Hamlet at the end of the play, long after he had decided to take revenge for his father, finally had the resolve to kill Claudius. However, Claudius had acted before him. First, Claudius tried to get him killed in England, and then successfully got Hamlet cut with a poisoned sword. Hamlet was dying before he finally stopped Claudius' life, so his procrastination really was the real reason Hamlet was killed. If only Hamlet had acted sooner, his life would have never been in danger, but because of this very common character flaw, his life, as everyone knows it, was over.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.

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