Peter Leithart in “The Serpent Now Wears the Crown: A Typological Reading of Hamlet,” considers the gravity of the main sin of offense of Claudius: Claudius's murder of King Hamlet, the act catalyzing the drama of the play, is presented as a sin of primordial character and cosmic implications....
The rest of the play is all about how Hamlet feels about what Claudius has done, and I think it rounds out the play to get it from a different perspective.
We enter King Claudius’s life with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two of Hamlet’s friends and very quickly we see how the King shows his compassionate side....
Only late in the play does Hamlet complain that his uncle had "popped in between the election and my hopes." The country had been in a nervous state expecting an invasion by young Fortinbras, at the head of a lawless band of adventurers, in revenge for his father’s death at the hands of King Hamlet....
I believe Claudius is not the bad person that most critiques would have you believe; rather he was a man who loved his country deeply enough to kill his own brother King Hamlet for it.
Hamlet says life itself is short ("The interim is mine, / Anda man's life's no more than to say 'One'.")Osric brings Laertes's challenge, Hamlet accepts.
Now, by placing Hamlet's self-criticism for his delay immediately after this recitation, Shakespeare again suggests that Hamlet has good reason to hesitate. In fact, the entire play serves to impress upon us the error of revenge. It demonstrates why revenge is wrong and makes us experience it. Thus, Hamlet is far from being an artistic failure; it is close to being an artistic miracle.
free innocent, free from guilt
John-a-dreams a dreaming person
unpregnant not quickened to action
scullion the lowest of kitchen servants, noted for foul language
From Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1795), translated by Thomas Carlyle.
See Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature by Augustus William Schlegel (1808), translated by John Black (London, 1846).
See Coleridge's Shakespearean Criticism , ed. Thomas M. Raysor (London: Constable, 1930).
. Shakespearean Tragedy by A. C. Bradley (Macmillan & Co., 1904).
See "Hamlet and His Problems" from Selected Essays by T. S. Eliot (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1950).
relative closely related
Even at this stage of the play, Shakespeare has taken great pains to suggest that there is something deeply wrong with revenge. He reminds us many times that the ghost is not an enlightened being and that its counsel is suspect. He impresses upon us the diabolical nature of the ghost's mandate through the eerie swearing ritual at the end of Act I. He illustrates the effect of this mandate on Hamlet's mind--the transformation of his world into a sinister and dark prison. He also creates the experience of the horror of vengeance through the terrifying depiction of the avenger in the Trojan War speech.
Shakespeare's aim is not to have Hamlet intellectually argue out the question of whether or not it is immoral to wreak vengeance. His intention is to have the audience find the answer to this question in the experience of the entire play, in its totality. This is Shakespeare's method of conveying his message, and it is the most effective way to do so. Shakespeare makes us live through it so that we learn through our emotional involvement and our experience of it.
Since Hamlet himself is not aware of the reason for the delay, it is not conscience taken in its usual form that we are considering. It is, instead, a more deepseated inner voice that causes him to hesitate, a voice that Hamlet fails to bring explicitly to the surface of his consciousness. Bradley, however, also objected to this deeper conscience as the reason for the delay. Why, he asked, if this answers to Shakespeare's meaning, did he then conceal that meaning until the last Act? However, this objection becomes invalid once we fully understand Shakespeare's reason for the delay and why he highlighted it.
Another reason offered for Hamlet's delay was the psychoanalytical one, first suggested by Freud, the originator of psychoanalysis. According to this theory, Hamlet is rendered incapable of acting against Claudius because of a repressed Oedipus complex; he restrains his actions because he has a subconscious desire to replace his father and lie with his mother. However, a strong argument can be made against this proposal, for such an intent on Shakespeare's part would have been totally lost on the Elizabethan audience. They certainly did not have the benefit of Freud's theories to rely on, and it would have required Shakespeare to make this reason for the delay a lot clearer than he did. The fact that Shakespeare did not do so reinforces the argument against this proposal.