Any given character can be viewed in more than one fashion and just as one interpretation may be common to many readers, others may hold a different point of view. Within Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the title character can be seen as either a man of action or a man or procrastination. Several believe that Hamlet was a weak man; a procrastinator, whereas other critics, like Werder, believe Hamlet to be a man of action with a different purpose. Hamlet is very concerned about his own soul and therefore must be certain of Claudius’ guilt before he can to take action. In the end, Hamlet’s ultimate task was not to kill King Claudius, but to bring the King to confession and convict him in the eyes of God, and the State of Denmark.
Bringing the King to confession took a lot of strategic planning along with logical thinking. According to the Shakespearean portrayal of ghosts, Hamlet was faced with a supernatural confrontation, where he had to decide whether the ghost was an evil omen or a truthful message from the dead. The ghost claimed to be Hamlet’s father and stated to be murdered by his own brother, who presently was wearing the crown. After some thought, an opportunity arose for Hamlet to catch the guilt of King Claudius. The play preformed by the Elizabethan travelling actors was an opportunity Hamlet could not turn down. He was quick to act when he asked the players if they could act out a short scene that he would write for them. After making sure that the players agreed to the insert in the play, Hamlet later states in his soliloquy the purpose of the inserted scene, “The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King (II, ii, 600-601)”. The scene inserted by Hamlet was a portrayal of a King’s brother, pouring poison into the ear of his own brother to reap the benefits of his brother’s wife and Kingship. When the play began, much conversation arose with Hamlet and his mother, the Queen. As the show progressed the King rose and Polonius, the King’s lapdog, shouted for the lights to be turned back on and the play was stopped abruptly. This proved to Hamlet that the King was guilty because Claudius stood up and left the room after the actor poured the poison into the ear of the actor-King. After everyone left the room, Hamlet stated to his friend Horatio, “I’ll take the ghost’s word for a / thousand pound( III, ii, 280-281)”. Hamlet was quick in confirming that the ghost was telling the truth, making his uncle confess through actions, and therefore knew that it was now his duty to convict his uncle in the eyes of God.
Another piece of information revealed by the ghost was in state of unrest since he had never been given the chance to repent his sins. Hamlet knew that King Claudius had to be convicted in the eyes of God but in no way was Hamlet going to let the King have a better chance in the afterlife than his father did. Hamlet had to make sure that King Claudius was in a state of sin, without repenting, before he could be killed. After the king had left the play, Hamlet was told to meet with his mother in her chamber. On his way there, he was his uncle forced on his knees praying to the lord to help him in his hour of need. Hamlet had the perfect opportunity to slay King Claudius but in speaking to himself, he said,
And now I’ll do’t. And so Сa goes to heaven;
And so am I reveng’d. That would be scann’d
A villain kills my father, and for that
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Why, this is hire salary, not revenge. (III, iii, 74-79).
Hamlet realized that he would simply be rewarding King Claudius for his murderous deed by sending him to heaven instead of an eternity of unrest. As Hamlet continued to speak to himself, he stated that he wished to wait until the King was in sin, “No. / Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent: (III, iii, 87-88)”. Hamlet was very specific in examples of when would be a good time to kill Claudius and after giving these examples he explained, “Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven / And that his soul may be damn’d and black / As hell, whereto it goes (III, iii, 93-95)”. Hamlet was making sure that when he killed Claudius, it would be at such a time that the King would be convicted in the eyes of God; making sure that Claudius was sent to eternal Hell.
As Hamlet continues and nears conclusion, its main character was drawn into a rigged fencing duel with Laertes; son of Polonuis. Wounded by Laertes’ poisoned sword Hamlet still wanted to convict his uncle in the eyes of Denmark, even after forcing Claudius’ death. With his last few words, Hamlet told his dear friend Horatio, “Horatio, I am dead, / Thou livest. Report me and my cause aright / To the unsatisfied (V, ii, 343-345)”. Horatio, a noble friend, was willing to take his own life but Hamlet stopped him with honest and conscience gripping words,
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw they breath in pain
To tell my story. (V, ii, 351-354).
Hamlet truly wished to tell the State of Denmark that the tragedy that occurred was due to the actions of Claudius. Even as Hamlet announced Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, as the next King of Denmark, he told Horatio with his last dying words, “So tell him, with th’occurrents more and less / Which have solicited” (V, ii, 362-363)”. A man’s last words are precious to everyone and the simple fact that Hamlet’s last words were of telling Denmark the truth of Claudius, proved that Hamlet’s mission was to convict Claudius in the eyes of the world; which was Denmark.
Although it cost Hamlet his own life, he took all the necessary steps as to proactively bring King Claudius to justice. Forcing Claudius to confess by his actions during the play proved Hamlet’s proactive characteristic. Convicting the King in the eyes of God as to when killing Claudius would undoubtedly result in an eternity of Hell an in making sure that Denmark knew the whole story concerning the illegitimacy of King Claudius’ rein, portrayed Hamlet’s ultimate task. Hamlet was unquestionable a man of action whose mission was completed successfully in the State of Denmark.
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