“So, what’s up with Hamlet?” This is a question that’s been asked by many people about the character of Hamlet. Why was he unable to kill Claudius, even after his father commanded him to? Many people have their own explanations for Hamlet’s action, or rather in-action, in the play Hamlet, but I propose that Hamlet’s inability to act boils down to his Oedipus Complex. In Greek mythology there is a myth of a man named Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother. The psychologist Sigmond Freud developed the notion that some people can develop a sort of disease in which they want to do the same. Hamlet suffered from this complex, and this might just be the reason that Hamlet was incapable of action. The action that Hamlet was incapable of was of course killing Claudius. Previously, English scholars have debated that Hamlet was incapable of his action because of his cowardice, and thus Hamlet invented different excuses as reasons why he could not kill Claudius, but maybe that has less to do with it then you might think.
If Hamlet has the Oedipus Complex, he should want to kill his father and marry his mother. Perhaps the reason Hamlet couldn’t kill Claudius had nothing to do with him being incapable of murder. In the play, you can see some of Hamlet’s real character. Throughout the whole thing he was never a polite person incapable of violence and evil, in fact his tongue was quick with insults. Whenever Hamlet put on his antic disposition, he would spout out insults at those around him. He made Polonius out to be a fool. He signed the death warrant to his two old school chums Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He even sent his love, Ophelia, into a suicidal state of mind. No, the reason Hamlet couldn’t kill Claudius wasn’t that he couldn’t murder, but that he was angry with himself that he couldn’t kill his father first. Claudius did what Hamlet couldn’t do: murder Hamlet’s father and marry Hamlet’s mother. This made Hamlet jealous. But, Hamlet was a reasonable person.
Hesitant Hamlet Throughout the play, Hamlet is shown not acting quickly in crucial situations, which brings us to his tragic flaw, hesitancy. Hamlet, stopping to think situations through, lets opportunities slip right through his hands that will immensely affect so many people in the future. If Hamlet would just act on instinct, than hesitancy would never be an issue. Unfortunately for Hamlet, in ...
While Hamlet still had the Oedipus complex, it had now been reverted onto his new father, Claudius. He still wanted to kill his father and marry his mother. The reason Hamlet couldn’t kill Claudius was out of respect for him; he did what Hamlet could not. Perhaps respect was the same reason Hamlet couldn’t kill his old father, since Hamlet does not go into depth about Hamlet’s relationship with his father it’s impossible to tell, but this seems likely.
Hamlet was a very pompous person. He was very arrogant and in no way the victim in this play. This was the reason he could so easily put Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Polonius to death. They were no challenge to him; there was nothing he could gain from them, so he easily dismissed them. Claudius, however, was a challenge. Hamlet started the game with the play within a play, where he first let Claudius know that he knew how his father died. He went afterwards to kill him, but in that weakened state he couldn’t, it would not be a fair fight. He also wanted to completely destroy his opponent, and sending him to heaven would not be a full victory, that is why he said he could not do it while Claudius was praying.
In the final scene you can see Hamlet’s competitive nature. He had the audacity to fence against Laertes, a much better fencer then himself, even after killing his father. In fact Hamlet even got the first few hits against Laertes, he was so used to winning that even someone more skilled than himself could not defeat him in something as small as a fencing match.
Come for the third, Laertes: you but dally;
I pray you, pass with your best violence;
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.
You can see his nature here. He wants Laertes to try his hardest, as it is no accomplishment to beat someone who is not trying.
Hamlet vs Laertes Both Laertes and Hamlet both have similar and unique personality traits. These two characters are essential parts to the structure and theme of this play. Laertes tends to be possibly, in my opinion, an earlier version of Hamlet. Laertes has a positive outlook on life and seems to make the best of his life. Hamlet on the other hand looks at life only for its negative qualities ...
This scene was also where Hamlet made his mistake; he was so infatuated with his game against Claudius that he did not even realize that Laertes had started a game as well. While Hamlet would have enjoyed to go against Laertes, he hadn’t the chance to realize that he already was. Laertes struck him with his poisoned sword, and then Hamlet realized it and took the sword himself and stabbed Laertes. Hamlet then realized that he would have no other chance to finish with Claudius, and thus kills him. Hamlet’s respect for Claudius is shown as he kills him in the same manner that Claudius killed the king.
Even at his death Hamlet showed his nature, he outlived all the other people poisoned with the same poison. He had his joy in victory, if only for a few moments, before he died. It was a tragedy in the end, only half of Hamlet’s goals were achieved. While his father was killed, he never had the chance to marry his mother. And this was the tragedy of Hamlet.