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mackyish's avatar

How long did Hamlet delay killing Claudius? I can't seem to find anything about it.

Asked by mackyish (50 points ) November 10th, 2011

I’m writing a paper and I want to try and find textual evidence that shows Hamlet procrastinated basically in murdering Claudius… but I have no idea if anyone ever mentions it.

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6 Answers

vine's avatar

Hamlet learns that Claudius assassinated his father at the end of the first act, but does not kill Claudius until the final scene of the final act. Obviously he’s taking his time.

There is also plenty of textual evidence in between to support the idea that Hamlet procrastinates (or is paralyzed by overthinking). Try looking at Hamlet’s soliloquies, in which he reasons with himself, reveals motives, etc. Also try thinking about opportunities that Hamlet fails to act on – especially when Claudius is vulnerable.

I can’t be more specific than that because I don’t have the play at hand, but it’s best anyway that you do your own homework, yes?

Hope this helps.

FutureMemory's avatar

Good answer, @vine.

Welcome to Fluther.

vine's avatar

Thank you, @FutureMemory. Very lucky that I should find a Shakespeare question on the front page after joining.

Haleth's avatar

@vine Excellent answer!

@mackyish Whenever I have to write a paper, I take a stack of post-it notes and leave notes all through the book when I find a quote that might prove my point. Or during the first read, put a post-it note in the book and write it down any time you see a quote that jumps out at you. @vine pointed out some great examples of instances in Hamlet that you can use to argue your point. Now all you have to do is look through the text for the quotes which best support that argument, and follow them up with your thoughts on why that is.

We’re really not supposed to help you do your homework on Fluther… but the play-within-a-play is a great place to start your search. Good luck!

lifeflame's avatar

Actually, the standard interpretation today is that Hamlet’s tragic flaw was that he spent a lot of time procrastinating, but when you actually watch the play, it doesn’t feel very long at all. In fact, you could argue that Hamlet actually, immediately hatches a series of plans, from the “Antic disposition” to the play within a play. My father (who was a Hamlet scholar) is of the belief that this procrastination interpretation emerged as a result of scholarly study (and the need to reduce things to spark notes); but you need to experience it in the context of the play.

If you have time, go watch a Hamlet film. (I recommend the Branagh version). That way you can judge for yourself if Hamlet is procrastinating, and if so, where exactly you feel like he is doing so…

cazzie's avatar

To me, that is what the whole play is about…. the plot, the scheming, the contemplation and the toll it takes on a person. Hamlet doesn’t just want to kill Claudius. He wants REVENGE. He wants to expose Claudius and his mother as the treasonous villains he knows them to be. He wants to ‘catch the conscience of the king’.

I’m no Shakespeare scholar, but that’s always what I think of when I see this play.

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