Hamlet – Hamlets Cowardness

Hamlet: Coward Many people proclaim Hamlet a hero, but I believe he stands as a coward who questions himself. Hamlet’s intellectual ability is superior to others, but there lies his weakness. His thinking in certain situations and personal needs characterize Hamlet as a coward of mind, not action. Hamlet is a coward because he is unable to make decisions. To begin with, Hamlet’s first instance of showing a cowardly mindset is when he questions himself in his “Oh what a peasant slave am I” soliloquy, asking “Am I a coward (2. 2, 526-584)? ” Although it seems to be a very simple question, it has a very complicated answer.

Hamlet is a coward because he berates himself afterward, saying “What an ass I am” and ironically proclaiming “I’m so damn brave (2. 2, 560). ” He knows that he has done nothing to avenge his father’s death, and he knows that all he is doing is standing around talking to himself. He intellectually battles himself on whether he is on the correct path to killing Claudius, and whether it will avenge his father and thus is unable to reach a decision in this soliloquy. Hamlet does not reach a decision because at the end he requires more evidence, which he will obtain during the play-within-a-play scene.

By coming up with this idea, Hamlet again shows he is more of a coward because he postpones killing Claudius because he is mentally unsure of his guilt. As the story progresses, Hamlet reaches a conclusion about cowardliness in his “To be or not to be” soliloquy when he says “conscience does make cowards of us all (3. 1, 57-91). ” This is with direct correlation to what he says after that, “the native hue…cast of thought” which means that the very ability of thought weakens the resolutions or boldness of a person’s ability to accomplish something, and thus it’s concluded that the conscience makes everyone a coward (3. , 85-86). Although he has reached an answer about his cowardliness, it conflicts with is actions. An instance of Hamlet failing to complete an action is when Claudius is in the church alone, and Hamlet could easily kill him. Hamlet does not kill him because he thinks to himself how Claudius would go to heaven, and here, thinking leads him to back away from his vengeance. Finally, Hamlet proves himself a coward when he compares himself to Fortinbras near the end of the play in act 4, scene 4.

In Hamlet’s “How all occasions do inform against me” soliloquy, he compares his cowardliness to Fortinbras’ resolution and determination (4. 4, 31-65). In this soliloquy Hamlet compares his shame, that he could not even avenge his father yet, to Fortinbras’ determination with his army to fight for basically an eggshell. He should “find quarrel in a straw when honor’s at stake” much like Fortinbras, where Hamlet should kill Claudius and stop questioning himself and halting his decision (4. 4, 54-55).

In this soliloquy Hamlet understand how much of a coward he has been, to have this much time pass before he avenged his father’s death. For his inability to make a final decision of killing Claudius, Hamlet is deemed a coward. In conclusion, Hamlet is a coward because of his mental incapability to make a final decision to kill Claudius; always hesitating, wasting time, and looking for more proof when all the proof he truly needed was the ghost, who he believed whole-heartedly in the beginning. Hamlet himself states that the ability to think makes everyone a coward for it makes you question your natural actions and resolutions.