Why can Hamlet be so ruthless with the likes of Polonius, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz yet seem so incapable of acting against Claudius? Hamlet is very ruthless with the likes of Polonius, Guildernstern and Rosencrantz. For example. he sets Guildernstern and Rosencrantz up to be executed, claiming that they deserved it. He kills Polonius and seems to have no sorrow afterwards, also claiming he deserved it since he was spying on him. Hamlet seems incapable of acting against    Claudius, however. He takes 2 months to finally kill him, passing up many opportunities along the way, continiung to make up excuses for not killing him. Why is that?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It has been said that Hamlet thinks too much. That, according to Coleridge and others, is his tragic flaw. If he acts on impulse he can act decisively, but when he thinks about doing something he gets lost in speculations and loses the all-important feeling he needs to commit murder. Macbeth says: "The flighty purpose never is o'ertook, unless the deed go with it."

With Polonius, Hamlet has his mother crying for help in front of him and Polonius crying for help behind the tapestry. He thinks it is a trap. On...

(The entire section contains 268 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team