Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Hamlet is one of the most discussed tragedies in the history of English literature. There are many questions raised about different aspects of this play. The most discussed topic is the delay of the revenge. Critics analyzed the play from different perspective to conclude the reason of the delay of the avenging task. Some critics used the psychoanalytic theory to judge the delay; some linked the delay with other causes. However, the most agreed reason for the delay of hamlet’s avenging task is his inability to act.
Hamlets’ soliloquies show that he is a man of intellect and reasoning. He spent most of his time in serious speculations. He used to analyze particular things from different angles. His father’s ghost assigned him to the task of avenging his death. At first, he was not sure that whether the ghost he has seen was his fathers’ or some evil spirit compelling him to commit sin. Later, he understands that Polonius is the murderer of his father and the former king. After knowing the truth, Hamlet keeps on deferring the avenging task. His too much speculation works as a hurdle in his path of revenge. His inactivity sprouts out from his habit of excessive thinking.
Even when Hamlet finds Polonius alone bowed down in his pray, rather than taking the action, delayed the task by assuming that killing him now might be a favor on his life. He has the great chance to stab him and avenge the death of his father. But he speculates that if he would kill the culprit during his prayer then he will go to heaven. This soliloquy is taken by many critics as an excuse to delay the task. A person, who has the fire of revenge, never thinks too much, he just acts out his revenge. Hamlet is indecisive, he cannot decide whether to take the revenge or not. Therefore, he defers it until he completely decides what to do. In the end, he takes his revenge, ironically at the time when he was not willing or ready to take it. The destiny brings Polonius to his death and Hamlet acted as a mere pawn of the destiny. It was not Hamlet who carried out the revenge; it was destiny that compelled Hamlet to play his part. Polonius himself come to his end and the death of the Polonius by the hands of hamlet can be taken just as an accident or the poetic justice.
His indecision, over speculation, scrupulous conscience, and over-refinement collectively delayed his duty of avenging his father’s death. He finds excuses to delay the task, and this is evident in his soliloquies. If he had been a man of action rather than the man of conscious then he might have avenged his father’s death earlier in the play.