What was the main problem in "Hamlet" and how can I write an essay about this problem? What was the main problem in "Hamlet" and how can I write an essay about this problem?

What was the main problem in "Hamlet" and how can I write an essay about this problem?

What was the main problem in "Hamlet" and how can I write an essay about this problem?

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englishprof1564 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The main problem in the play is one of knowledge. How can Hamlet tell whether he should kill his uncle or not? If he takes the word of his father's ghost, then he should. But, as he says, the spirit "may be a devil" who "abuses me to damn me"—that is, who is lying to Hamlet to get him to murder his uncle and forfeit his soul. In order to test what the ghost says, Hamlet sets up the play-within-a-play to try to test his uncle's guilt. He seems satisfied with the result at first, telling Horatio, "I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound." But he doesn't actually kill Claudius, instead allowing himself to be taken to England at Claudius's command. If you're reading a version of the play that includes the "How all occasions do inform against me" soliloquy, you even have evidence that Hamlet is still hesitating of his own accord as late as act 4.

We don't see the moment of decision when Hamlet makes up his mind to kill Claudius; we just see him come back in act 5 already determined to do...

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