To die, would be to abandon this garden suffocated by weeds. To take one’s life, is to alleviate turmoil from the heart. Although extremely tempting, Hamlet cannot, therefore will not commit suicide. For he believes God “had… fixed / his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! ” (line 131-132 p. 166). With this in his mind he drags his burden deeper and deeper into a pit of agony. Inflicted upon him were the excruciatingly painful blows of his father’s death and the incestuous marriage of his mother and uncle.
Hamlet held his father with high esteem calling him an excellent king and Hyperion. He resents his “more than kin, and less than kind” (line 65 p. 165) stepfather, exclaiming, “So excellent a king, that was, to this! / Hyperion to a satyr” (line 139-140 p. 166). He not only shows resentment towards his uncle, Claudius, but is also beset with anguish over his mother’s hasty marriage, crying out, “She married O, most wicked speed, to post / with such dexterity to incestuous sheets! / It is not nor it cannot come to good: / But break, my heart” (line 166-169 p. 67).
Then, the spirit of King Hamlet visits Elsinor to reveal to his son, “the serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown. ” (lines 39-40 p. 172). The spirit asks, “If thou didst ever the dear father love – revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. Hamlet must avenge his father’s unnatural and horrible death! He swears to revenge but delays his vengeance missing opportunities one right after the other. In the Shakespearean play, Hamlet, the conflict comes from Hamlet’s Christian and moral beliefs and his need to avenge his father’s murder.
Instead of storming into Claudius’ room to kill him after hearing what the ghost revealed, Hamlet must discover first-hand whether or not the ghost is telling the truth of who he is and if his story is factual. He says, “The spirit that I have seen / may be the devil: and the devil hath power / to assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps / out of my weakness and my melancholy, / As he is very potent with such spirits, / abuses me to damn me” (line 632-637 p. 188). Hamlet’s Christian belief is that the devil can fix its disposition to take advantage of a person’s weakness to abuse them.
This causes a delay in that he must make a plan and carry out the plan in order to verify the ghost’s accusations of Claudius and his death. Hamlet meets with players and decides he will have them act out something like the murder of his father and observe his uncle’s reaction. “I’ll tent him to the quick: if he but blench, I know my course, … I’ll have grounds more relative than this: the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. ” Hamlet now has tools for his revenge: a plan, but still contemplates suicide.
This is evident in his third soliloquy, saying, “To be or not to be: that is the question:…to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or… by opposing end them: To die: to sleep:… by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks…shuffled off this mortal coil. ” (line 56-67). This is Hamlet’s greatest inner conflict. He does not want anything to do with this world. He wants to leave his afflictions and fall to the eternal peaceful sleep but in his Christian belief God damns those who commit “self-slaughter”.
In this soliloquy Hamlet shows a lack of self-motivation. He is overcome by so much turmoil that he doesn’t want to do anything, not even avenge his father’s murder but to just die and leave his problems behind. Hamlet’s mood swings into revenge mode as he sees Claudius’ revealing countenance as he watches the play titled, Mouse-trap, that Hamlet requested especially for him. By Claudius’ reaction to the play the ghost’s story is verified to be true. After the play he searches for Claudius and finds him in “prayer” or what he thinks to be prayer.
This is the climax of Hamlet. Claudius is alone, unsuspecting and vulnerable. Hamlet sees this and says to him self, “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying. And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven;…A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven… He took my father grossly, full of bread; with all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May:… No! When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage… or about some act that has no relish of salvation in’t;… And that his soul may be… damned…” (lines 66-87 p. 98).
He could have killed him he had the best opportunity but he delayed for in his Christian belief, when one is “in the purging of his soul” (line 78 p. 198) he will be sent to heaven. Hamlet didn’t want to send Claudius to the eternal paradise his father was deprived of, so Hamlet walks away for a more revengeful event. But the King was not and could not pray hopelessly saying “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: / Words without thoughts never to heaven go. ” (lines 90-91 p. 198). A missed opportunity.
Claudius could not repent for his sins for he did not feel guilty enough to give up his wicked prizes of power, ambition and his brother’s queen. From this point on everything goes down hill. Near the end Hamlet finally realizes his actions have been cowardly delayed. “How all occasions do inform against me, / and spur my dull revenge! …/ Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple / of thinking too precisely on the event, / a thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom / and ever three parts coward,… / Sith I have cause and will and strength and means / to do’t. ” (lines 33-46 p. 206).
Finally he realizes something about himself. His cowardly reluctance is due to ethical considerations. He is so frustrated with himself he puts all his Christian and moral beliefs aside to avenge his father’s death and swears, “from this time forth, / My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! ” (lines65-66 p. 207). In the end it was to late. Hamlet’s delay in action were results of his Christian and moral beliefs and his need to avenge his father’s murder. His procrastination became his downfall leading to the tragic death of his mother, Learertes, Claudius, and himself. Hamlet was the fallen hero that waited to long.