Adv. English 12
10 January 2004
Cause and Effect Paper
Hamlet the Hesitant
††††††††††† Hesitation turns out to be one of the biggest character flaws in the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare.† Hamletís hesitation is the cause of many problems throughout the play that could have been solved much easier.† Hamlet can plainly see the ghost of his dead father who reveals that his own brother murdered him.† Hamlet hesitates and performs another test to make sure what he has heard is true before he takes vengeance upon his cruel uncle.† The play he puts on reveals that what the ghost spoke was true, but by now others have become suspicious of Hamlet.† His sneaking around and spying causes the king to think he is mad and have others spy on him.† This, in turn, causes the death of Polonius who attempts to listen in on a conversation between Hamlet and his mother, the queen.† The death of Polonius causes his daughter, Ophelia, to lose control and eventually commit suicide.† The only remaining kin of Polonius is then Laertes, and he is vows revenge upon Hamlet, an act which the king permits.† The final cause of Hamlet's hesitation is Laertesí revenge in the form of a duel, which ends in the death of Hamlet, Laertes, the Queen, and the King.† These situations were all caused because of Hamlets hesitation and disbelief.
††††††††††† The first consequence of Hamlet's hesitation is the death of Polonius when he attempts to listen in on the queen's conversation with her son.† Hamlet's constant spying and unusual behavior has caused the king to become suspicious and he orders others to spy on him.† Polonius, loyal servant to the king, states, "He's going to his mother's closet.† Behind the arras I'll convey myself to hear the process" (III, iii, 27-29).† The king tells him to do so showing his suspicion of the young Hamlet.† Unfortunately for Polonius, Hamlet is aware of the presence of another, and thinking it is the king, murders him.† Polonius would never have been involved in this situation if not for Hamlet's suspicious behavior.† Queen Gertrude then reports to the King and tells him that Hamlet is "Mad as the sea and the wind when both contend which is mightier" (IV, i, 7-8).† Now because Hamlet hesitated to take his vengeance and sought out more proof of the king's guilt, his behavior has caused everyone to think that he is mad.† Hamlet could have avoided stigmatizing himself by simply believing his father and killing the king immediately.† Now Hamlet will suffer consequences from the King and the family of Polonius.
††††††††††† Ophelia's suicide directly stemmed from the unnecessary murder of her father, Polonius, by Hamlet.† Ophelia completely depends upon her father for direction of what to do and without him she is totally lost.† She comes in singing and reciting poetry after her father's death and then states "I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died" (IV, v, 182-183).† This shows that Ophelia's father was her whole world and without him everything that was beautiful to her is now gone.† The fact that Hamlet was the one who killed Ophelia's father also bothers her since she was once romantically involved with him.† He began to act strangely toward Ophelia in order to make the king think that Ophelia was the reason for his behavior so he could further investigate the murder of his father.† If he had not done this, Polonius would have never become involved in the situation in the first place.† Soon after the death of Polonius, the Queen once again brings the news of death stating, "Your sister's drowned, Laertes" (IV, vii, 164).† Now both Polonius and his daughter are dead because of Hamlet's need to make sure (even after receiving many obvious clues) that it was the king who was responsible for his father's death.† Laertes is left to mourn for his family's death and to justify them by challenging Hamlet.
††††††††††† Hamlet's strange behavior caused by his hesitation finally led to a showdown with Laertes the son of Polonius.† The loss of Laertes' entire family caused a craze to come over him and the king sympathizes with him because he too has a sort of hatred for Hamlet.† By now the king is almost certain that Hamlet knows of his crime and has already attempted to rid himself of Hamlet by sending him to England with orders for his execution there.† This whole situation is obviously Hamlet's fault and was caused by his elaborate schemes to make sure it was truly his uncle that killed his father.† Laertes states, "Fall ten times treble on the cursed head whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense deprived thee of" showing his hatred of Hamlet (V, i, 249-251).† Hamlet hesitates to tell anyone about how the true king was murdered and allows Laertes to continue to despise him until it results in the end of them both.† Hamlet eventually stops hesitating during the duel with Laertes when he realizes that he, Laertes, and the Queen will all die because of him.† He ends his hesitation by stating, "Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane, drink off this potion" and finally justifies the death of his father (V, ii, 324-325).† It may seem like all turned out well with the death of the corrupted king, but in truth all royalty has been slain because of Hamlet.† He could have saved his entire family and his decency by killing the king immediately after talking with the ghost of his father.
††††††††††† Every character has a flaw and in Shakespeare's play Hamlet's biggest flaw is hesitation.† He avoids making quick decisions or acting on impulse and when he has finally made a decision, his window of opportunity has passed.† This flaw causes this play to be a tragedy because it leads to the death of Hamlet's and Polonius's families.† If Hamlet had made the decision to seek vengeance on his uncle earlier, no one would be suspicious of him and the king would be the only one to die.† Hamlet seems to be the hero, and in some respects he is, but he actually is the partial cause of the deaths of his entire family.