The idea that thought prompts action is pretty simplistic and universal, but it hinges on the assumption that your thoughts are in alignment with your psyche. When thoughts and inclinations collide we take the most comfortable route neglecting what the consequences are and make the less than optimal decision. In order to execute perfect revenge, there has to be that Age Old paradigm of An Eye For An Eye, A Tooth For A Tooth lodged in your soul. Thoughts: which in Hamlet concerns retaliation, has to have a mechanism of self-righteous equivocation in order for those thoughts to coalesce into Action. When a common man thinks, he uses reason and understands and acknowledges the consequences of his behavior. Hamlet is the opposite. He doesn’t consider consequences. He lusts for revenge in his thoughts but little in his actions. When he stabs through the arras, he acts without being able to see who was actually behind it; perhaps to diminish the chance of charges of Treason or to prevent an escape by an eavesdropper of his heretic clammering. Whichever the case what Hamlet neglects to realize is: that even if it turned out to be someone else, namely Polonius, behind the arras, his son would want to revenge that murder just as much as Hamlet wants to revenge his fathers. This abominable rashness of Hamlet’s is his demise. Laertes is the one who kills the Prince. Hamlet had the intention of killing the King but lacked the courage to consider the outcome of stabbing through a concealed barrier. As Horatio says when all is said and done;
Purposes Mistook Fallen On The Inventors’ Heads.
Hamlet truly shows devotion to his father by being willing to sacrifice himself in order to put his soul to rest. The Ghost had commanded to kill Claudius and lead Gertrude to heaven. If he acted right away that would have avoided all the mayhem that takes place? Of course Hamlet might have been in trouble with the law but the complete bloodbath would have been avoided. The queen with her devotion to her son could of probably managed a cover-up of some sort. It seems as if Gertrude is the only woman that Hamlet has ever been genuinely loved by. If Hamlet became King and had all the power, he could do whatever he wanted including having relations with the queen. So maybe if he would of killed Claudius right away he would of ultimately be a slave to his passions and betray his father by continuing the pattern of incest. Then perhaps his conscience is tortured by leaving his father as a perturbed spirit stuck in limbo forever. Maybe the guilt vexes Hamlet so bad he is forced to end his own life. That would be the epitome of outrageous fortune. Then Gertrude might commit suicide too after Hamlet does so. So when people say, if Hamlet would of just killed the King right away everything would of been peachy; not necessarily so.
“What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed: a beast no more.” Hamlet is uttering probably the simplest yet most profound observation in the entire play. We as humans often approach our lives with a bestial perspective. We indulge in meals; we lust, and we enjoy idleness. But this is not what defines our species. Unlike other animals we have the gift of thought, imagination, reason and wit. When we fail to utilize these endowments, we are not living as human beings but merely as imposters of such; beasts trapped in humans’ bodies. Without such gifts we are not human. Hamlet is encouraging us to be as our creator intended: for a Noble purpose. If we neglect to use our unique faculties that define our ethereal essence, we are committing the sin of ingratitude as, “he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and godlike reason to fust in us unused.” Attain life’s wonders to the zenith of an auspicious star. Don’t be like the hobby-horse; whose epitaph is:
For O, for O: the hobbyhorse is forgot.
Don’t just be for an age, but be FOR ALL TIME!
At the end of Hamlet everyone is dead except Fortinbras and Horatio. A question that remains ambivalent is whether the ghost remains vexed due to Hamlet’s demise. Hamlet died with no fear of death but with concern over his honor. He died doubtless summa cum laude, the zenith of honor. He revenged his fathers murder which was the ghost’s command and because murder usually involves consequences for the slayer and dire ones too; the ghost wouldn’t be surprised by Hamlet’s death. In a way he was asking Hamlet to sacrifice himself as treason usually doesn’t involve light consequences. For these reasons I think King Hamlet can R.I.P.
Hamlet has a desire to go to Wittenberg and Gertrude and Claudius are against it. Why? No blatantly obvious reason shows up in the text. One possibility is that both Claudius and Gertrude were in on the murder and want to keep an eye on Hamlet since he would be most apt to revenge if he found out what really happened . Along those same lines they seem to be trying to be extra nice to Hamlet so that he never suspects their treachery . It doesn’t make sense for a mother to pray for her son tonot to get an education? let not thy mother lose her prayers Hamlet…Go not to Wittenberg was a German university and historically a Protestant one. According to Hamlet’s father’s Ghost he was confined to fast in fires till the crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purg’d away. This statement signifies a Catholic concept of Purgatory and the likelihood that Hamlet’s father was Catholic. The fact that Hamlet wants to go to a Protestant school introduces an interesting parallel. Shakespeare’s father was a closet Catholic as historians have indubitably concluded from documents. We know Shakespeare belonged to the Holy Trinity Church of England, a Protestant church. Also Shakespeare didn’t complete university and neither does Hamlet. Contrarily, Gertrude’s desire to have Hamlet stay in Denmark could be trying to indicate that Gertrude wants to respect her deceased husband’s memory by having Hamlet go to a Catholic school as her deceased husband probably would have pushed for, as opposed to The Protestant church in Wittenberg which was against his father’s beliefs. We know the Bard’s son was named Hamnet, and if any of HAMLET is quasi-autobiographical. Shakespeare didn’t go to college because he didn’t want to disappoint his mother. Historically Shakespeare was very close with his mother as was Hamnet.
Throughout the play Hamlet goes through many experiences of uncertainty. To be or not to be; or the ghost being referred to as either a spirit of health or goblin damned. The procrastination of killing Claudius for purposes of sending his soul to Hell and not to heaven while he’s praying. As we find out he could of killed Claudius and “sent him to Hell” as the King remarks that his prayers were “words without thoughts”. But he doesn’t kill him as he over-analyzes and comes to the wrong conclusion about his repenting. He feels his dad didn’t get to repent of his sins before he died so why should he. Hamlet wants to know for sure if the ghost is legit and he can’t feel at ease without that certainty. It’s almost like the hypochondriac that no matter how many times they go to the doctor the patient always finds something wrong with themselves. No matter how much proof Hamlet has that the ghost is honest, he still doubts it. The ghost ends up being his demise as it causes him to “put an antic disposition on” which leads to the slaying of Polonius and rousing the King’s suspicions through putting on “The Murder of Gonzago”. This is another instance in Shakespeare where the supernatural leads down a path of destruction. As for to be or not to be, the uncertainty of whether there’s an afterlife worse than actual life “puzzles the will” and makes us all out to be cowards of our own mortality.
When Hamlet slays Polonius he asks the question: “Is it the King”? Now this could mean a lot of things. One, he knew it was either the King or Polonius and just hoped for the first. Two, he knew it was Polonius and was just sick of his buffoonery . Three, he honestly thought it was the King but was too cowardly to open the arras prior to killing. Lastly maybe he thought it was a malicious spy and was just protecting himself. Whatever it was he doesn’t seem too remorseful afterwards.
One thing Hamlet says after the slaughter of Polonius is: ” I took thee for thy better”. This could mean two things: he took him for his better parts and not his foolish ones or it could mean he took him for his actual better in person or the King Claudius.