Hamlet’s delay in seeking revenge directly correlates to the age in which the play was written along with the notion that Hamlet is brilliant but impatient, these are the reasons for Hamlet’s procrastination. His impatience leads to his death in the end.
In Elizabethan times, a ghost was generally believed to be a devil that had assumed the form of a dead person. These ghosts wanted to put into danger the souls of those nearest themselves through lies and other questionable behavior. In Hamlet, when the ghost first appears on the palace guard’s watch, no one affirms that it is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, only that it looks like him. Hamlet waits to be convinced that the ghost is indeed the spirit of his late father. When Hamlet decides to present “The Murder of Gonzago” before the king, he states as his motive:
The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil; and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea and perhaps
Abuses me to damn me.
However, once he is convinced that the ghost is truly his father, Hamlet still appears to hesitate. Some critics have explained this by analyzing his situation. Because the murder of the late king took place secretly, the Danish court doesn’t suspect Claudius. His reaction to “The Murder of Gonzago” is significant only to Hamlet and Horatio, and Hamlet cannot kill the king before publicly proving him a murderer (as he is dying, Hamlet’s main concern is that Denmark know his reasons for killing Claudius). Also, if Hamlet kills the king without supporters present to uphold the act, he himself might be immediately killed as a regicide. This shows is brilliance in the grand scheme of things. When Hamlet rushes at the king in the last scene, the whole court with one voice shouts, “Treason! Treason!” although Laertes has already exposed Claudius’s bad character.
Like the Oedipus of Sophocles, Hamlet is a tragic hero and thus largely determines his own fate. Shakespeare portrays him as an extraordinarily complex young manbrilliant, sensitive, noble, philosophic, and reckless. He is larger than life, a great example of emotion and intellect. This “impatient” kind of personality is the source of his tragedy. Hamlet’s impatience often prevents appropriate planning, so that when he does act he does not achieve his desired results. In the final scene, anxious to get on with the duel, Hamlet fails to inspect the foils and thus to notice that Laertes’s foil is not blunted. This final impatience costs him his life.