Hamlet's Procrastination Essay Example

Throughout the whole play of Hamlet, the constant hesitation and procrastination is represented through Hamlet’s character; he is deeply reflective, delays his revenge numerous times, and is cursed with having to commit acts he struggles with consciously. The play Hamlet,  “... is the most self- conscious literature figure ever created” (Rosenblum). He as a character struggles with the act of committing revenge. Hamlet's father was murdered by his father’s brother. A ghost visits Hamlet giving him the message to get revenge. Hamlet is portrayed to be procrastinating more often than anything else. 

Hamlet isn’t only hesitant about the revenge. He also carries the dread of taking his own life. In one his most famous soliloquies, “To be or not to be”,  he proclaimed:

Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking. Actions that should be carried out at once get misdirected, and stop being actions at all. (Hamlet 3, 1, 83-89). 

He has so many questions without answers, “Hamlet is haunted by unanswerable questions and mortality and death” (Themes and Construction). This thought was short lived as he had realized that you don’t know what death is like and taking your own life is a sin. He was not sure if he would go to hell or heaven. Hamlet also would not have given his father his wishes of revenge.  When waiting to get revenge he was challenged with an extreme amount of troubles. 

Being in his own head had made him lose the sense of life and his duties. Some may believe he is crushed, “The cost of Hamlet’s infinite self -reflexivity is incapacity of action. Such is the curse of self- consciousness” (Critchley. Webster 12). Hamlet has experienced a great deal of troubles, he is very self- reflexive. It is almost like a curse. Hamlet is still a young kid, so taken on the pressure of wanting to get revenge for his father makes him over think. So much of the pressure leads to, “His tendency to overanalyze his options, thus paralyzing his own ability to act” (Themes and Construction). Being that he thought about it too much causes a major delay. 

All the people that Hamlet knew to be close to him, turned out they were betraying him, at least he thought. Hamlet ran through every scenario in his head about revenge. The beliefs from philosophers, psychoanalysts, and crites have diagnosed Hamlet with procrastination. They exclaimed that because of his waiting and hesitation it drove Hamlet to go mad (Critchley. Webster 12). Having to commit such a big task is scary.  In an article that refers to Hamlet as the avenger states, “Revenge delayed and an avenger who breathes himself for procrastination” This article also mentions, “Among these are a ghost calling for revenge, a secret crime that must be confirmed” (Rosenblum). No one knew of the obstacles Hamlet was facing. They assumed he was going mad for other reasons, not for his sinful thoughts. 

The amount of opportunities he had to kill Claudius is countless. He was extremely strategic when it came to planning the revenge and even getting confirmation. Seeing a ghost of your dead father is not realistic. He was not sure if it was real. So he arranged to put on a play. This play was based of The Murder of Gonzago. The play was put on to resemble the murder of Hamlet’s father.  The reason Hamlet did this was to watch how Claudius would react. Hamlet and his good friend Horatio worked out a plan, “Watch him closely. I’ll stare at him too, and afterward we’ll compare notes on him” (Hamlet 3, 2, 78-79).  If the ghost was real and was telling the truth, Claudius would show some sort of sign. The plan of Hamlet and Horatio worked. Hamlet’s father was killed by poison so when they got to the part of the play where they talked about poison Clauidus shouted, “Turn on the lights. Get me out of here”  ( Hamlet 3,2, 252). That was the sign they wanted. They got confirmation that the ghost was telling the truth. But in the mix of getting revenge, Claudius caught on to Hamlet's devilish notion. He sent Hamlet to England where he wrote a note to the king telling him to kill Hamlet. Well Hamlet saw this note, and the ones that were supposed to be the messengers did not know what it said, but Hamlet thought that they knew. They were Hamlet's good friends, but he wrote a note to kill them. Hamlet gets the perfect chance to kill Claudius but he was praying, “I could do it easily now. He’s praying now… And there he goes, off to heaven” (Hamlet 3, 3, 74-76).  He didn’t want to take the chance of Claudius going to heaven. Since he was praying he is in a state of grace so he would go to heaven not hell. Hamlet wanted his revenge to make an impact and that Claudius would end up in hell. He missed the chance of killing him. Hamlet wanted it to be perfect. He never could settle for anything less. 

After all the obstacles and let downs he waited too long, “Desiring revenge, Hamlet struggles with inner uncertainty and takes action too late, leading to devastating    consequences, including his own downfall and death” (Themes and Construction). Hamlet fought to avenge his father but he had waited too long. He ended up dying, but so did Claudius. His prostration and hesitation affected his quality of life. He was living a normal life before the death of his father, and before taking on his revenge. Hamlet went mad, he lost his father and his sense of life. It all went away when committing the revenge. It was dragged out because he was procrastinating. 

Works Cited 

Critchley, Simon, and Jamieson Webster. "He Knew Too Much." New York Times, 10 July 2011, p. 12(L). Gale In Context: High School, link-gale-oh.orc.scoolaid.net/apps/doc/A261008383/SUIC?u=nysl_ce_wcs&sid=SUIC&xid=72d5a8b1. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Rosenblum, Joseph. “Hamlet.” The Facts On File Companion to Shakespeare, Facts On File, 2020. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=19540&itemid=WE54&articleId=483593. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Shakespeare, William, and John Crowteher. No Fear Shakespeare: Hamlet. SparkNotes,2003. 

"Themes and Construction: Hamlet." Gale In Context Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Gale In Context: High School,link-gale-oh.orc.scoolaid.net/apps/doc/LSFBYN936642438/SUIC?u=nysl_ce_wcs&sid=SUIC&xid=c2c2e9c9. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.


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