Why does Hamlet delay in avenging his father's death?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet delays the avenging of his father's death. He is carefully seeking the truth on the death of his father. After Hamlet hears from his father's ghost, he begins thinking about his father's message in that Claudius murdered him. Since this is a serious accusation, Hamlet does not rely totally on his father's message. 

Hamlet looks for signs of guilt from his Uncle Claudius. When some traveling actors come to town, Hamlet asks them to reenact his father's death. Hamlet plans to look for signs of guilt from his Uncle Claudius.

During the reenactment of his father's death, Claudius becomes very uncomfortable. He rushes out of the theater. While he rushes out, he is crying out for light. He is definitely flustered. Claudius appears guilty of killing his own brother, young Hamlet's father. 

After Hamlet gets the reaction he was seeking from Claudius, he delays in killing Claudius. While Claudius is praying, Hamlet does not kill him for fear that he will find redemption from his sins and enter heaven as a forgiven man. 

Hamlet desires to get revenge, but he has to wait for the right moment. Claudius is the king and is protected by the people. Hamlet has to be patient to find the right moment to avenge his father's murder. 

Unfortunately, Hamlet waits too long. Claudius plans Hamlet's death.  As Hamlet is dying, he forces Claudius to drink the poison that Claudius had intended Hamlet drink. Hamlet does ultimately get his revenge. Sadly, he dies in the process.