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One reason that Hamlet delays killing Claudius is that he wants to make sure that Claudius actually killed his father.  He doesn't want to take the word of a ghost; he wants actual proof, because the ghost could be a "goblin damn'd" bringing "blasts from hell" who has "intents wicked"...

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(I.iv.40-42).  He doesn't want to go and commit murder based on a ghost's word.  So, he seeks proof.  To do this, he puts on "an antic disposition" (I.v.172), or the visage of madness and silliness in order to go about investigating the murder without arousing suspicion.

So, he sets up the play, and based on his uncle's reaction to it, he is pretty sure that Claudius is guilty. But he still doesn't act; armed with a confirmation of his uncle's guilt, he comes across his uncle praying.  But, he doesn't do it.  His reason?  He needs to kill Claudius while his is "drunk asleep, or in his rage, or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed", not while he is praying, so that he can make sure "his soul may be as damn'd and black as hell, whereto it goes" (III.iii.89-95).  It's a rather lame excuse if you ask me; in reality, I just don't think he's ready yet.

Readiness finally comes with the insidious Rosencrantz and Guildenstern plot; something about this conspiracy is a catalyst that prompts Hamlet to action-finally.  But before this, he ho-hums his way through the play, armed with excuses and procrastination.

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Why do you think Hamlet delays in killing Claudius?

It is possible Hamlet is too much of a thinker and not enough of an actor.  He does have an almost excessive desire to reason everything through thoroughly.  In normal situations, as well as in a crisis, this can be an extremely valuable asset and a positive character trait.

I'd suggest that Hamlet has specific reasons throughout much of the play for waiting.  At first, he isn't sure of the Ghost's identity.  He worries that the ghost could be a demon in disguise trying to get him to kill an innocent king.  He uses the play within the play to determine whether or not Claudius is guilty. 

Then he finds Claudius at prayer and seems ready to kill him, but stops because, since Claudius is praying Hamlet assumes Claudius is confessing, and his death would send him to heaven.    Hamlet doesn't want to send Claudius to heaven. 

Of course, when Hamlet neglects to kill Claudius while he is praying he is, in a sense, playing God, and this is a real mistake (probably the climax of the play).  Hamlet is also mistaken:  Claudius never actually confesses and repents and his soul would still be damned, according to the beliefs of the day and play.

But these two instances show that at least some of the time, Hamlet has specific reasons to not kill Claudius.  There's nothing wrong with a mind that doesn't want to kill an innocent man.

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Why do you think Hamlet delays in killing Claudius?

Most people would say it is because Hamlet is not really a decisive personality.  It is not in his nature to know what needs doing and just go out and do it.  So instead of acting, he delays, waiting to motivate himself to do what he knows he should do.

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