What would you do if you had a chance to kill the man who took your father’s innocent life? This was the main conflict of Hamlet. Throughout the play, Hamlet was faced with many challenges which toyed with his deliberation on whether or not to kill his father’s murderer. His indecisiveness was characterized as a “tragic flaw” that climatically led to his death. There are many theories as to why Hamlet was unsure about killing Claudius and what took him so long to do it once he did make up his mind such as: lack of opportunity; too much thought and analysis; melancholy; Oedipus complex; doubt about the honesty of the Ghost; and doubts about his own ambitious motives. These obstacles developed the intricate plot of the play and led the main character Hamlet through a mental “hell” before his revenge was complete.
Was lack of opportunity the interruption in hamlets killing of Claudius? Hamlet did not have many chances to kill Claudius privately, to avoid being seen as a monster in front of his family and friends. He was rarely alone with claudius, therefore creating the “lack of opportunity” to avenge his father’s death. When Hamlet finally catches Claudius alone, Claudius is in the middle of a prayer. Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius at this time because if Claudius is killed after repenting for his sins, he will be sent to Heaven. The last thing Hamlet wants to see is his father’s murderer rest in peace. He wants to kill Claudius as he is committing a sin so that he could be sent to purgatory just as his father was. His father was not allowed to repay for his sins so Hamlet wants Claudius to suffer just the same.
It is argued that the amount of melancholy that Hamlet suffered throughout the play is actually what stopped him from killing Claudius earlier. He dealt with a great deal of depression, going through suicidal tantrums and lonely outcries. Hamlet is in a great state of grievance of his father’s death throughout the play. Claudius held this against him. He called his long period of sorrow “obstinate condolement”. He said that his sadness was unmanly. Claudius believed that emotions of this sort showed a weak heart and womanly emotions.
It got to a point where Hamlet felt like he had to hold in his emotions, unable to express them without being harshly judged. In one of Hamlet’s many soliloquies he states “But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.” This quote fully exerts his hearts desire for someone to confide in, to listen to him and his sorrows. He knows that he cannot speak on how miserable he is because of how everyone will judge him. In a state of depression, Hamlet is viewed by his peers and family as having gone mad. His symptoms are actually hand and hand with melancholia, which could have been brought upon by Hamlet sadness and loneliness.
Oedipus complex may have played a part as to why Hamlet seemed to not be able to kill Claudius. Hamlet’s love for his mother was strong, so strong that it is questioned as to whether or not his love for his mother goes deeper than a mother-child bond. Throughout the play, Hamlet often brings up how little time has passed since his father’s passing and his mother’s remarriage to his brother. His remarks on the situation are often crude and jealous-sounding. In part I scene II, Hamlet says “Must I remember? Why she would hang on him, as if increase of appetite had grown”. In this quote Hamlet speaks of hating to think of his mother and father acting intimately with one another. That is not a normal trait for a child to have.