To Do Or Not To Do? Why Didn't He Just Do It?

Many questions surround the idea of Hamlet's inability to act through the course of Shakespeare's Hamlet. E. E. Stoll makes one of the most audacious arguments simply stating "It is both the traditional form and the natural procedure; obviously, the deed done, the tragedy is over." 'Because that's the way he wrote it,' is the poorest excuse for an argument ever written by anyone even if it was 1933 when he wrote it. I rather prefer T. S. Elliot's 1932 statement one how not being able to name the thing made him unable to act: "Hamlet's bafflement at the absence of objective equivalent to his feelings is a prolongation of the bafflement of his creator in the face of his artistic problem."

Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy best defends T. S. Elliot's argument. In it, he ponders the meanings or the 'bafflement' of meaning. Hamlet is at the point where he sees more than just himself in the world, but the whole of creation. He considers the grand scheme of life and the impact it has on men. The last statement best supports Elliot's argument when Hamlet says the "currents turn awry, / And lose the name of action" (III. i. 87-8). He does not...

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