In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the main character Hamlet seems to procrastinate when killing his uncle Claudius. Hamlet realizes he must kill Claudius to avenge the death of his father, yet he misses prime opportunities to kill the king. Hamlet has just reasons for his delay in killing Claudius, but the reasons could also be excuses for waiting to act. Hamlet never acts without thinking his action through thoroughly. For this reason, Hamlets intellect causes his procrastination when killing Claudius.
Hamlet procrastinates because he risks psychological estrangement on multiple levels. Hamlet believes in God and an afterlife, which he proves through avenging the death of his father and not killing Claudius while he prayed. Because he believes in God, Hamlet risks religious estrangement. If he kills Claudius, Hamlet will be violating one of Gods commandments. On the other hand, Hamlet feels he must avenge the death of his father. By killing Claudius, Hamlet feels the guilt of violating a religious code, but if he does not kill Claudius, Hamlet feels guilty for not taking revenge for the death of his father (Mamoun 1). Hamlet would also risk moral estrangement if he kills Claudius. Because Hamlet thinks and prides himself for his intellect, Hamlet also contains morals and values. Hamlet believes murder wrong but feels the need to avenge the death of his father. John Masefield wrote To the delicate and complex mind so much of life is bound up with every act that any violent act involves not only a large personal sacrifice of ideal, but a tearing-up by the roots of half the order of the world (2). If Hamlet kills Claudius he violates his moral standards. Hamlet must over think every action before he commits murder. By killing Claudius, Hamlet will suffer moral estrangement (Mamoun 1). Furthermore, Hamlet will suffer estrangement from his mother. Hamlet loves Gertrude, but feels repulsed and disgusted that she married so soon after the death of her former husband. Hamlet becomes angry when he confronts Gertrude in her bedroom. This caustic meeting with leaves him torn. Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his disgust envelops and exceeds her. It is thus a feeling which he cannot understand; he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action (Elliot 3). Also, Hamlet must confront the fact that his mother, whom he loves, fell in love with a nefarious man. Hamlet avoids this though because it leaves him emotionally torn. In addition, Hamlet does not want to risk losing the love of his mother. Is Hamlet kills Claudius, he risks losing the love of Gertrude. Gertrude does not know the reason Hamlet acts mad and may never forgive him if Hamlet kills Claudius. For this reason, Hamlet feels restrained from killing the man his mother loves (Mamoun 2).Furthermore, Hamlet thinks his mother believes him to be sweet and charming. Killing Claudius would destroy Gertrudes conception of her son. For these reasons, Hamlet may suffer a psychological estrangement from his mother. The three types of estrangement Hamlet suffers cause his procrastination when killing Claudius. Hamlet realizes he is in a catch-22 situation psychologically (Mamoun 3 of 19). He wants to kill Claudius but fears psychological estrangement so intense it could destroy his sense of identity (Mamoun 3 of 19).
Hamlet does not consider himself a man of action. Hamlet acknowledges the fact that he must first think actions through rationally before acting. In Act IV, Scene IV, Hamlet contrasts himself with Fortinbras, a man of action (Ahmed 1 of 2). Hamlet does not understand the reason for his procrastination and shows amazement when twenty thousand men, that, for a fancy and trick of fame, go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot whereon the numbers cannot try the cause. Angered at this contrast Hamlet wants my thoughts be bloody, or nothing be worth! Furthermore, Hamlet must be absolutely certain that Claudius killed his father. Hamlet does not want to murder an innocent man, so he constructs the play wherein Ill catch the conscience of the king. Despite the play, Hamlet still procrastinates once he becomes absolutely sure Claudius murdered his father. In the chapel, Hamlet waits to kill Claudius because he wishes to send him to hell. The reason seems valid, but still contains the element of procrastination. Even after Hamlet vows to kill Claudius, he does not take the opportunities that present themselves.
Hamlet considers himself a man of intellect. He ponders questions such as existentialism. Hamlet desires to know whether he has made the most of his life or if he just lived and let the world pass him by. Because Hamlet wants his life to be meaningful, he feels his duty is avenging the death of his father. Although Hamlet does not wish to take action, he feels obliged to. Furthermore, Hamlet teases those who walk through life like cattle waiting to be led. Hamlet dislikes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because they pretend to be his friend but are like an apple, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to be last swallowed: when he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and sponge, you shall be dry again. Hamlet also plays with Orsic and Polonius. Hamlet thinks the men of the court act like fools. They have no mind of their own, but only repeat what others think. Also, Hamlet enjoys playing with words. In Act IV, Scene III, Hamlet uses an excellent metaphor to make the king seem insignificant in the world. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of the king, and eat of the fish that hath fed that worm, lets the king know he only comprises of a small and insignificant part of the world. Also, when the guard seek the body of Polonius, Hamlet plays with them before revealing the hiding place. Hamlet enjoys using his intellect. Because he thinks so much, Hamlet delays in killing Claudius. He would rather go back to Wittenberg and study philosophy than to be the king of Denmark. Because of this, Hamlet procrastinates when killing Claudius.
Hamlets intellect causes his procrastination. Hamlet is a dual image of a search for truth, of seeking for a certainty that would justify a violent act (Elliot 2 of 4). He possesses a creative mind which over analyzes actions and ponders existential philosophies such as the meaning of life. Killing Claudius may be the just thing to do, but the action would tear apart his psyche unless Hamlet has overcome all the reasons for his procrastination. Eventually, Hamlet kills Claudius because he has overcome his emotional and psychological problems. Once his mother dies, Hamlet easily overcomes his fears and kills Claudius. He finally realizes that action must be taken before more innocent people die.