Choices made by Hamlet, which ultimately lead to his death, are all guided by his own free will. In mourning his father’s death, Hamlet chooses to do so for what others consider to be an excessive amount of time. “But to persever/ In obstinate condolement is a course/ Of impious stubbornness”(I.ii.99-100), according to Claudius. During this period of mourning, Hamlet meets his father’s spirit and promises to avenge his father’s death. However, upon reflection, he questions the validity of the ghost’s message. At this point he carefully goes about choosing a plan of action that will inevitably show that “the king is to blame” (V.ii.340) In following his plan, Hamlet freely chooses to kill Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ophelia, Laertes, Claudius and himself.
Following the performance of “The Mousetrap”, Hamlet is summoned to his mother’s chamber. Upon arguing with Gertrude over the intentions of his play, and his reasons for wanting to distress the king so openly, Hamlet kills Polonius. “How now? A rat? Dead for a ducat, dead (III.iv.27-28)! Perhaps Hamlet did not know whom he was killing. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! / I took thee for thy better”(III.iv.38-39)! Perhaps Hamlet thought he was killing the king.
In any case, the point is that Hamlet kills by his own hand, thought, and action. It is his choice. “To be” the tool of vengeance “or not to be” is the dilemma that faces Hamlet throughout the play.
Hamlet does not have much time to mull over his choices, for time is not on Hamlet’s side. The king has his own plans to be rid of Hamlet. He sends Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to England for “My head (to) be struck off”(V.ii.27). Hamlet revises the sentencing papers, fully aware that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be executed instead.
Arriving at Ophelia’s funeral, Hamlet is faced by Laertes’ rage. Laertes justly blames Hamlet for the death of Polonius and the subsequent suicide of Ophelia. Again both deaths were due to choices made by Hamlet, Polonius’ murder and driving Ophelia insane.
Finally we arrive at the sword match between Hamlet and Laertes. Hamlet is unaware of Claudius’ poisoned goblet and the poisoned tip of Laertes’ sword. When Laertes cuts Hamlet, he makes the choice to stab Laertes, who would see him dead as well.
When the queen dies after drinking the poison and Laertes confesses the whole deed, implicating Claudius, Hamlet finally kills the man who killed his father.
Father and Son Relationship in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Father and Son Relationship in Hamlet
Hamlet, of the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a young man with many distinctive characteristics. He is the loving and beloved son of Hamlet, the deceased King of Denmark. He is talented in many ways, as actor, athlete, and scholar. Prince Hamlet draws upon many of his talents as he goes through a remarkable metamorphosis, changing from an average, responsible, young Prince to an apparently mad, raging son intent upon avenging his father’s untimely death.
In the beginning of Hamlet, the Prince behaves as any normal person would following the death of a loved one. Not only is this a loved one, but an extra special someone; it is his loving father whom he adored. Hamlet is grief stricken, depressed, and even angry that his mother remarried so soon after his father’s death. Having witnessed how his father had treated his mother with great love and respect, Hamlet cannot understand how his mother could shorten the grieving period so greatly to marry someone like Uncle Claudius. He is incapable of rationalizing her deeds and he is obsessed by her actions.
Throughout the play Hamlet is in constant conflict with himself. An appearance of a ghost claiming to be his father, “I am thy father’s spirit”(I.v.14) aggravates his grief, nearly causing him to commit suicide and leaving him deeply disgusted and angered. Upon speaking with his ghost-father, Hamlet learns that his uncle-stepfather killed Hamlet the King. “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown”(I.v.45-46) Hamlet is beside himself and becomes obsessed with plotting and planning revenge for the death of his father.
Hamlet struggles constantly, trying to decide how he should go about avenging the loss of his father to his deceitful uncle-stepfather. Planning to kill him isn’t easy. Hamlet is given many opportunities to kill Claudius, but keeps stalling for time to be certain the ghost had spoken the truth about the murder. Finally, Hamlet decides upon a plan. “the play’s the thing/Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King”(II.ii.612-613). He will stage a performance for the King that would actually be a reenactment of his father’s murder. The play he chooses to reenact is entitled “The Murder of Gonzago” with a few changes made to accommodate Hamlet’s new lines and actions reflecting Claudius murdering his father. Upon seeing Claudius’s crazy behavior during and following Hamlet’s play, Hamlet realizes that his ghost-father had spoken the truth.