William Shakespeare's dramatic tragedy Hamlet is truly a work of art. Any piece of literature that has the capacity to generate so much debate and last for hundreds of years must be pure genius. Upon examining Shakespeare's characters in this play, Hamlet proves to be an exceedingly complex character, and functions as the key element to the development of the play. Throughout the play we see many different aspects of Hamlet's personality by observing his actions in exacting his revenge on his uncle, Claudius, who killed his father and incestuously married his mother to take control of the throne. The question of why Hamlet delays in taking revenge on Claudius for so long has puzzled readers and audience members alike.
Some critics believe that Hamlet simply thinks too much. He wants the murder of the King to be perfect. Claudius has to go to hell and the people have to know about the murderer Claudius. Unlike most erratic behavior of individuals seeking revenge out of rage, Hamlet considers the consequences of his actions. Hamlet has the mind of a true thinker. However, his mind was holding him back at the same time. Hamlet spends too much time planning and not enough time doing, thus making the King's murder more complicated and belated. His need to analyze and prove everything certainly drew his time of action farther and farther away. As illustrated through the self-reproaches in his soliloquies, Hamlet continuously doubted himself and whether or not the action that he wanted to take was justifiable.
According to the philosophy of the human race, the ability to think and reason separates man from animal. It is with this very important fact in mind that one can first begin to interpret the question, why does he wait so long to kill Claudius? It is a question of morals and ethics, both of which can pose many of life's greatest challenges. As Edward Wagenknecht puts it, "this is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.