Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare’s most well-known plays. The story revolves around Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, who is trying to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet is known for his procrastination in taking action throughout the play.
Many scholars have argued that Hamlet’s delay in seeking revenge is due to his fear of death. Hamlet is confronted with the reality of his own mortality and he must grapple with the weight of this knowledge. As a result, Hamlet becomes paralyzed by indecision and he is unable to take action.
Hamlet’s procrastination also stems from his reluctance to kill Claudius, his uncle and the man who murdered Hamlet’s father.
William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet focuses on a young prince who swears to take revenge for his father’s death. When he figures out how his dad really died, he feels intense anger and bitterness towards Claudius. Even though Hamlet is an honorable man, it’s hard for him to reconcile taking bloody revenge.
Hamlet’s conscience tells him that it is his duty to take action and kill Claudius, but Hamlet continually procrastinates. Hamlet’s tragic flaw of procrastination leads to his downfall because he becomes so caught up in his indecision that he fails to see the consequences of his actions.
Hamlet’s problem with procrastination begins when he learns of his father’s murder. Hamlet is completely shocked and devastated by this news, and he swears to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet knows that it is his duty to take action against Claudius, but he is reluctant to do so. Hamlet is a very reflective man, and he wants to be certain that he is taking the right action before he does anything. Hamlet’s hesitation to take action against Claudius is first seen when Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying.
Hamlet knows that if he kills Claudius while he is praying, then Claudius will go to heaven and Hamlet will not have fulfilled his revenge. Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius at this moment because he wants Claudius to suffer for his crimes. Hamlet’s delay in taking action allows Claudius to continue his evil ways, which eventually leads to Hamlet’s own death.
Hamlet’s procrastination also causes him to miss opportunities to kill Claudius. Hamlet has several chances to kill Claudius, but he always manages to find a reason to delay his revenge. For example, Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is alone in his chamber, but Hamlet decides not to do so because he does not want to kill Claudius while he is unaware and unprepared.
Hamlet also has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is sleeping, but Hamlet decides not to because he wants Claudius to suffer the consequences of his actions. Hamlet’s hesitance to take action against Claudius ultimately leads to his own downfall.
Hamlet’s procrastination is also evident in his relationship with Ophelia. Hamlet is deeply in love with Ophelia, but he is reluctant to express his feelings for her. Hamlet’s hesitation to tell Ophelia how he feels about her causes him to miss his chance to be with her. Hamlet’s procrastination in taking action against Claudius and expressing his love for Ophelia eventually leads to his downfall.
He swears that he will exact his revenge violently, but this is not the case. Hamlet considers his plan to assassinate Claudius since he is more interested in philosophizing than in action. The more he contemplates on his intention to kill Claudius, the less likely it becomes that he will be able to carry through with it. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is a lack of initiative. He vows to murder Claudius numerous times before actually doing so because of hesitation and regret.
Hamlet’s procrastination is what causes his downfall. Hamlet is a victim of circumstances. If it were not for the ghost, Hamlet would never have known about his father’s murder. Hamlet is put into a position where he must take action, but his inaction is what leads to his demise. Hamlet is human and therefore, he makes mistakes. The biggest mistake Hamlet makes is not killing Claudius when he has the chance. Hamlet’s procrastination leads to his own death and the death of those around him.
Hamlet’s first sign of procrastination and inactivity appears through his character at the start of the play. The ghost informs him about Claudius’ evil deeds. Hamlet is quick to answer, replying, “Haste me to know it; that I, with wings as swift as thought or love’s ideas, may fly to my revenge.”
Hamlet swears his revenge and says he will take action straight away. However, Hamlet still does not do anything until much later in the play. Hamlet’s procrastination is also shown when he is talking to his mother. Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying but Hamlet decides not to because he wants Claudius to go to heaven so that he will suffer more in hell.
Hamlet tells himself “Now might I do it pat, now a is a-praying; And now I’ll do’t. And so a goes to heaven; And so am I revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven.” Hamlet knows that if he killed Claudius while he is praying, Claudius would go to heaven.
Hamlet wants Claudius to suffer more, so he decides to wait and kill him at a time when he knows Claudius will go to hell. Hamlet puts off taking his revenge multiple times throughout the play. He has many opportunities to kill Claudius but each time he finds a reason not to do it. Hamlet’s procrastination leads him to his own downfall in the end. Hamlet finally takes action and kills Claudius but he dies in the process. Hamlet’s procrastination ultimately leads to his own death.
He asserts that he will dedicate himself solely to avenging his father: “I’ll wipe away all the trivial things I’ve noted down in books, all my observations and past experiences. Your commandment will be the only thing left alive in my brain, not mixed up with any other useless thoughts. Yes, by heaven!” (Shakespeare, p 69). From here on out, there is no doubt in Hamlet’s mind; he is resolved to kill Claudius.
Hamlet’s conscience begins to haunt him and he starts to doubt himself. Hamlet becomes a victim of his own procrastination as he continues to delay taking any action. He is unable to move forward with his plan for revenge, paralyzed by indecision and fear.
As Hamlet delays in taking action, his mental state deteriorates. He becomes obsessed with the idea of death, contemplating suicide on multiple occasions. Hamlet is fixated on the idea that death is inevitable and everyone will meet the same fate eventually. In his soliloquy in Act III, Hamlet says “To die, to sleep- / To sleep, perchance to dream… / … Ay, there’s the rub! / … For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…” (Shakespeare, p. 115).
Hamlet is torn between the desire to take revenge and the fear of what will happen after he dies. He is afraid of the unknown and he doesn’t know what will happen to him after he takes Claudius’ life. Hamlet’s procrastination has led him into a state of depression and he is consumed by his own thoughts.