He is unwilling to act unjustly, yet he is afraid that he is failing to exact a deserved retribution.
He debates the murky issue until he becomes unsure whether his own behavior is caused by moral scruple or cowardice.
Both of these views presuppose a precise discovery of Hamlet’s motivation.
However, Renaissance drama is not generally a drama of motivation, either by psychological character or moral predetermination.
His father, whom he deeply loved and admired, is recently deceased, and he himself seems to have been robbed of his birthright.
Hamlet Analysis Essay
Shakespeare points to Hamlet’s shock at Gertrude’s disrespect to the memory of his father, rather than his love for his mother, as the source of his distress.
Hamlet’s suspicion is reinforced by the ghostly visitation and the revelation of murder.
If Hamlet had simply proceeded to act out the avenger role assigned to him, the play would have lacked the moral and theological complexity that provides its special fascination.
Seeing a re-creation of his father’s death and Claudius’s response stiffens Hamlet’s resolve to act, but once again he hesitates when he sees Claudius in prayer.
Hamlet’s inaction in this scene is not the result of cowardice or even of a perception of moral ambiguity but rather of the very thoroughness of his commitment: Having once decided on revenge, he wants to destroy his uncle body and soul.