Hamlet’s delay or tragic flaw in avenging his father’s murder and killing Claudius in Hamlet has been a source of endless speculation by many critics. What do you think are the reasons for his hesitation and procrastination, and why does he finally go through with Claudius’s death at the end of the play?

In Hamlet, Hamlet hesitates to kill his uncle Claudius because he must first confirm that Claudius did actually kill Hamlet's father. Once he does, Hamlet delays so that he can find the proper time to kill Claudius. He wants Claudius to die when he is "full of bread" and will go to Purgatory (as his father's soul did) or Hell rather than Heaven. Hamlet finally kills Claudius when he learns that he has been poisoned and will die within minutes.

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First, Hamlet seems to hesitate in exacting revenge on Claudius because he needs to confirm that the ghost was really telling him the truth. Horatio, Hamlet 's friend, questions whether or not the ghost is actually the ghost of Hamlet's dead father or is actually a demon from hell...

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First, Hamlet seems to hesitate in exacting revenge on Claudius because he needs to confirm that the ghost was really telling him the truth. Horatio, Hamlet's friend, questions whether or not the ghost is actually the ghost of Hamlet's dead father or is actually a demon from hell sent to do Hamlet some harm. Hamlet decides to "put an antic disposition on" and act as though he has gone insane (1.5.192). Evidently, he feels that this will allow him to investigate his uncle's possible guilt without drawing suspicion onto himself.

Once Hamlet confirms his uncle's guilt on the night of the play The Mousetrap, he feels confident that he can go ahead with the revenge plot. However, when he next happens upon Claudius, the king is actually on his knees and appears to praying. Hamlet feels that to kill Claudius while he is at prayer would actually be doing him a favor. Claudius killed Hamlet's father before the old king could confess his sins and be absolved, so his soul went to Purgatory rather than Heaven (according to the ghost). Hamlet wants to send Claudius to Hell, saying, "And am I then revenged / To take him in the purging of his soul, / When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? / No" (3.3.89-92). Later, when Hamlet is in his mother's bedroom, he believes that he has caught Claudius hiding behind the arras, and so Hamlet stabs him; however, he was mistaken, and it is actually Polonius that he kills.

Hamlet finally kills Claudius when he, Hamlet, is running out of time to do so. Laertes confesses that he has poisoned Hamlet with his sword, that Gertrude has been poisoned by the wine, and that "The King, the King's to blame" (5.2.351). Hamlet has to kill Claudius now, or he will miss his chance. At this point, Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink some of the poisoned wine.

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