Hamlet Action/Inaction and Duty

Student Number 251 |
English Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Texts -   Hamlet |
  Essay Question: “To what extent has your own interpretation of Hamlet been informed by Shakespeare’s dramatic exploration of   two of the following ideas:   * Duty   * Corruption   * Action/Inaction   * Deception   * MortalityIn your response, make detailed reference to the play.” |
Due Thursday June 9th 2011 |

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragic presentation that is grounded with worldly issues such as filial duty and stagnation, and through an exploration into these universal themes, varying views and interpretations have been produced. I propose that Hamlet is a tragedy of inaction – whereas revenge must be taken quickly and efficiently, Hamlet makes a huge mistake in over-thinking and pondering over the consequences of what he has to do because of his inability to comprehend the certainty of death and his filial obligation to serve his father (the Ghost). Hamlet’s filial duty to his late father and his struggle to find certainty in death attack his mind and instigate his suicidal contemplations (his conscience getting the better of him), which ultimately cause his inability to act in a decisive manner. My perspective of Hamlet’s inaction being caused by his duty to his father and his struggle to accept the definite nature of death is supported and informed to a large extent by the dramatic exploration of the themes Duty and Action/Inaction by Shakespeare, as seen in several language and dramatic techniques throughout the play that demonstrate Hamlet’s struggle with his filial duty and the nature of mortality.

Duty plays a large part in the play, especially as its role as a filial (father-son) act seen between Laertes and Polonius and Hamlet and Old Hamlet. Through its presentation in language and drama, the duty aspect of the play informs my interpretation by showing that part of Hamlet’s constant dwelling on his actions and their consequences was activated due...