Indecisive, rash, mad, and manic-depressive. The protagonist in William Shakespeare's Hamlet has been described as each of these things. I, however, believe that Hamlet's flaw is procrastination. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary's definition of the verb procrastinate is "to put off intentionally and habitually." Hamlet shows this trait in many scenes throughout the play. He puts off catching his uncle in a trap and killing his uncle at a perfect occasion. "To be or not to be- that is the question...
." (III. i. 64) is one of the most famous lines in the play and in all of literature. In this celebrated soliloquy, Hamlet continues saying, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them." (III. i. 65-68) Hamlet is debating if it would be better to kill Claudius, his incestuous and murderous uncle and the current king of Denmark, with words or a sword.
He decides to try the former, killing him with words, in the form of a play, called Gonzago. It is about a duke who is murdered by his nephew who then marries his aunt and becomes a duke. It had the same plot as what was really happening in Denmark at the time, with a few small changes. Hamlet's purpose was to watch King Claudius' reaction to the play and then expose him as the murderer of Hamlet's father.
However, in Hamlet's style, he waits and misses his opportunity. During the play, Hamlet hints at the meaning of it by sarcastically saying, "Your Majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not." (III. ii. 265-266) He means that because they are "innocent", that the play has no meaning to them. After the king and queen had seen how the story of Gonzago unfolded, Claudius begins to understand Hamlet's purpose. He is beginning to get nervous and when Hamlet says, "You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife." (III.
ii. 289-290) Claudius gets up and leaves. Hamlet has missed his chance to accuse the king of murder. Hamlet, having lost his opportunity to kill Claudius with words, now decides to kill him with a sword. "O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon 't, a brother's murder." (III.
iii. 40-42) Claudius is confessing his sin of murdering his brother when Hamlet comes across him. It is the perfect chance for Hamlet to get his revenge. "Now might I do it now he is a-praying, and now I'll do 't." (III. iii. 77-79) However, Hamlet stops himself.
He decides not to do it right then, as Claudius is confessing his sins, because then he will not suffer. He decides to murder Claudius when he is committing a sin so he will have to suffer. Hamlet once again procrastinates and misses the perfect opportunity to kill his uncle. At times, Hamlet is seen as rash and impulsive.
Polonius was talking to Queen Gertrude when Hamlet came to talk to her, and hides behind a curtain. At one point he accidently cries out, "What ho! Help!" (III. iv. 28) Hamlet, thinking it is the king, says, "How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead." (III. iv. 29) and stabs Polonius.
Polonius exclaims, "O, I am slain!" (III. iv. 30) Hamlet confesses that he had meant to kill the king. The Queen exclaims, in shock, "O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!" (III.
iv. 33) Hamlet responds, saying, "A bloody deed- almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother." (III. iv. 34-35) Hamlet then verbally attacks his mother for marrying Claudius. This is a very good example of Hamlet's impulsiveness but even he says, .".. I am not sp lenitive rash." (V.
i. 275) Throughout the play, Hamlet shows the characteristics of a procrastinator. He puts off things in an intentional and habitual manner. This leads to his eventual demise and the ruin of everyone he held dear or loved in his life.