Why does Hamlet decline to take action against Claudius in act 3, scene 3?
At this point in the play, Hamlet has witnessed Claudius's reaction to the play, "The Mousetrap," and knows he is guilty of murder. When he sees Claudius at his prayers, all alone and vulnerable, not expecting an attack and not in a position to defend himself, he realizes that here is the ideal moment to avenge his father.
Yet Hamlet does not act. His reasoning for this hesitation is that his father died without having said his prayers. His father was therefore not in a state of grace—his sins were not forgiven, which is why he was doomed to walk the earth as a ghost. If Claudius dies in prayer, he will go straight to heaven. That,...
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