An exploration of why Hamlet delays the act of revenge


Hamlet is a human being, and he is an emotional human being. He feels guilt, remorse and has responsibilities, yet at the same time he feels pride and a sense of duty. He is quick, in Act one, scene five to take on his role of avenger
“Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.”


Hamlet is passionate about his role and swears to “wipe away all trivial fond records” and to solely concentrate avenging is father’s death. However he does seem concerned with his mother’s betrayal
“O most pernicious woman!”


This was not the key subject his father spoke of, yet Hamlet troubles himself with the thoughts of his mother’s marriage to his uncle.


Hamlet jumps into his role without thinking, he idolized his father so much that he would do anything to make him happy, to be the perfect son. However towards the end of the scene when his emotions are less fired up, Hamlets thoughts about his role relent and start to become less positive and self assured,
“The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!”


Although he feels it’s his duty, he says ‘cursed spite’ he is resentful of his apparent fate, and he may be seeing this revenge act as an awesome and problematic task.


Hamlet is a man of philosophy rather than heroic action, he thinks deeply about his feelings and actions, which he sees as a fault, ‘think too precisely on the event.’ Hamlet seems to be a very aware person, he is conscious of his procrastination and accuses himself of being a ‘John-a-dreams’ in act two scene two after he has heard the players speak.


Hamlets antic disposition could be regarded as a sub conscious way of delaying the revenge by using it as displacement behaviour. Hamlet may be so enveloping himself in convincing everyone that he is in fact mentally unstable rather than submerging himself in plotting revenge. Although at first Hamlet feels the idea of the antic disposition is a good one, it becomes apparent that even Hamlet doubts his genuine sanity, it may be the case that he cannot differ from how he is acting to how he naturally is. It seems unclear to the audience at times, if Hamlet is speaking in the act of insanity or when what he is displaying to the audience is his real self, particularly in act 3 scene 4 when Hamlet argues with his mother. His attitude towards her was already that of accusing her of treachery and when talking to his mother he seems threatening, Gertrude becomes scared
‘Though wilt no murder me?
Help, ho!’


When Hamlet murders Polonius he still seems to be obsessed with his mother’s betrayal.
“A bloody deed-almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.”


Even now, when Hamlet has killed in cold blood, in the heat of an argument, he is more concerned about his mother’s behaviour and suggests that she was in on the murder of his father. He has been haunted by his mother’s actions since the marriage. Hamlet adored his father, describing him as a ‘satyr’ almost godlike, his parents relationship he put on a pedestal so his mothers sudden betrayal seemed disastrous to Hamlet..




“God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another”


There is a continuous theme of hypocrisy and deceit within the play and it is something Hamlet feels strongly about. His mothers love for his father he perceives as false, thus her mourning for him being so too. He saw his grief as genuine but no one else’s. His Uncles deceit and complete betrayal of his father seems to take a back seat in comparison to the actions of his mother. This idolisation of his mother being completely overthrown may have plunged Hamlet into a state of depression; his experience of female inconsistency would no doubt have affected his mental state. Coupled with the death of his father and the sudden marriage is enough to make anyone depressed, so for Hamlet, who is a very philosophical and