Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude, is faced with a difficult decision early in the play. Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, has killed Hamlet’s father and married Gertrude, making Hamlet the heir to the throne. Hamlet is consumed with thoughts of revenge and struggles with whether to act on them. This internal dilemma creates a great deal of tension within Hamlet and leads to much of the drama in the play.
Hamlet eventually decides to take action, but his plan backfires and leads to his own death. Hamlet’s dilemma is a classic example of the human struggle between our internal impulses and our rational thoughts. Hamlet’s story is timeless and continues to resonate with audiences today.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet approach has given rise to many diverse interpretations of meaning, but it is through hamlets struggle with his internal conflict, deciding when to avenge his father’s death, that the reader becomes aware of one of the most frequent meanings in Hamlet: the notion that Shakespeare is attempting to comment on the power that one’s mental state can have on their life choices. As the play goes on, Shakespeare employs encounters hamlet must deal with to demonstrate how one’s perspective might influence how one thinks.
Hamlet is forced to question his belief system, and the legitimacy of the ghost that has visited him. Hamlet must also confront the idea that Gertrude may have been complicit in his fathers death, a betrayal that would challenge everything he believes. Hamlet’s internal struggle becomes evident as he vacillates between different courses of action, often unable to make a decision due to the magnitude of the choices he faces.
Hamlets indecision is not solely due to the external factors he confronts, but is also reflective of Hamlets internal conflict. Hamlet must come to terms with his own feelings about what is right and wrong, and what revenge means to him. This is most clearly illustrated in Hamlet’s soliloquies, where he pours out his innermost thoughts and feelings. Hamlet’s internal dilemma is further complicated by the fact that he is a prince, and must take into account the potential political ramifications of his actions. In the end, Hamlet’s internal struggle leads him to make a decision that has disastrous consequences for all involved.
While Shakespeare does not provide a clear answer to Hamlet’s dilemma, he does raise important questions about the role that morality plays in decision making. Hamlet’s story provides a cautionary tale about the dangers of inaction, and the importance of being mindful of the choices we make in life.
In Act 1, Scene 5 of Hamlet, Shakespeare sets the stage for Hamlet’s internal conflict when the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and demands that he avenge his “violently and most unnatural” killing (1. 5. 24). It is from this point on that Hamlet must struggle with the question of whether or not to kill Claudius, his uncle, and if so when to carry out the deed.
While the play progresses, Hamlet does not seek his revenge when the opportunity arises, and it is Hamlet’s logic that explains why he has delayed.
Hamlet’s internal conflict and the actions that he takes, or does not take, as a result provide evidence for the understanding that it is Hamlet’s mindset, more than anything else, that leads to his downfall.
When Hamlet is first faced with the responsibility of revenge, he is quick to accept it. Hamlet tells his father’s ghost that he will “sweep to my revenge” (1. 5. 36). Hamlet is eager for revenge and willing to kill Claudius in order to avenge his father’s death; however, Hamlet soon begins to question whether or not killing Claudius is the right thing to do.
Hamlet wonders if killing Claudius while he is praying, as the ghost of Hamlet’s father has instructed Hamlet to do, would be considered an act of mercy. Hamlet also questions whether or not taking revenge will actually make him feel better. Hamlet comes to the conclusion that killing Claudius is not the answer and decides to put off his revenge in order to figure out a better way to handle the situation.
Hamlet’s internal conflict arises from his need for justice balanced against his doubt about whether or not he is doing the right thing. Hamlet’s hesitation to kill Claudius, even though it goes against what the ghost of Hamlet’s father has asked him to do, can be seen as an indication that Hamlet is aware of the moral implications of his actions. Hamlet is not simply looking for revenge; he is looking for justice.
The conflict that Hamlet feels internally is evident in his soliloquies. Hamlet’s first soliloquy, which occurs in Act 1, Scene 2, reveals Hamlet’s initial thoughts about revenge. Hamlet is angry and wants revenge, but he is also hesitant. Hamlet wonders if it would be better to just kill himself rather than go through with the act of revenge. Hamlet’s second soliloquy, which takes place in Act 3, Scene 1, shows Hamlet wrestling with his internal conflict once again.
Hamlet is still angry and wants revenge, but he is also worried that he will not be able to go through with it. Hamlet wonders if he is really doing the right thing by waiting to take his revenge. Hamlet’s third soliloquy, which occurs in Act 4, Scene 4, shows Hamlet coming to terms with his internal conflict. Hamlet has finally realized that he needs to take action and that he cannot continue to delay his revenge. Hamlet’s soliloquies show the progression of his internal conflict and how it eventually leads him to take action.
Hamlet’s internal conflict is evident in his interactions with other characters as well. Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia is strained from the beginning of the play. Hamlet is clearly not interested in Ophelia and he tells her to “get thee to a nunnery” (3. 1. 121). Hamlet’s rejection of Ophelia is due to his internal conflict. Hamlet is worried that he will not be able to take revenge if he gets too close to someone. Hamlet is also worried that he will end up hurting Ophelia if he gets too close to her. As a result, Hamlet pushes Ophelia away in order to protect himself and her.