One of the most vital scenes that occur in Hamlet includes the repercussion of the play and Hamlets first attempt to kill Claudius. After the actors present a play to the King and people of Denmark of a murder similar to that of Old Hamlets death, Claudius rushes out of the room- ascertaining his guilt of killing the King. Hamlet, now convinced of the Ghosts indictment, proceeds to follow through with the last wishes of his deceased father and kill Claudius. Hamlet slips into the room where Claudius has run off too and readies to kill the king. Yet, Claudius is kneeling on the floor begging for forgiveness from God and repenting for his sins. In this soliloquy, Claudius pleads, My fault is past, but oh, what form of prayer can serve my turn, Forgive me my foul murder? Hamlet, overhearing the Kings prayers, exclaims, Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying, and now Ill dot. And so he goes to heaven. And so I am revenged- that would be scanned. A villain kills my father, and, for that, I his sole son do this same villain send to heaven. The protagonist understands that killing Claudius at the very moment would send him to heaven, and thus Hamlet abandons the murder for the moment. This is hardly an adequate revenge, Hamlet thinks, especially since Claudius, by killing Hamlets father before he had time to make his last confession, ensured that his brother would not go to heaven. Hamlet decides to wait, resolving to kill Claudius when the king is sinning- when he is drunk, angry, or lustful.
This scene contributes significantly to the play and provides ample insight into the evasive characters of Claudius and Hamlet. Through Claudiuss soliloquy, the audience can perceive another side of Claudius in which he honestly expresses his quandary and viewpoints. Claudius understands the severity of the murder and labels the act of killing ones brother the worst sin of all by saying, Oh, my offense is rank. It smells to heaven. It hath the primal eldest curse upont, A brothers murder. Pray can I not. In spite of the weakness Claudius presents in this scene, the King still proves shrewd and cunning by making plans with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to send Hamlet away to England. Additionally, although Claudius admits his guilt, the king claims that he cannot give up My crown, mine own ambition and my queen. This might provide insight into Claudiuss feelings for Gertrude and whether the love he held for her was true, and not just a manner to attain the throne. Furthermore, this scene delves into Hamlets indecisiveness and possible madness. Although Hamlet is completely certain of Claudiuss role in the death of the King, the man cannot bring himself to slay Claudius. Hamlet puts of the act until later which acts as a problem because Hamlet simply cannot kill Claudius. Not until later when the main character hears of Fortinbras revenge on Denmark does Hamlet firmly resolve to kill Claudius. Furthermore, Hamlets thoughts in this particular scene allows for the audience to see the character in a clear light. For instance, up until this scene Hamlets behavior and decision to behave madly compel the readers to believe that the man truly was crazy. Nevertheless, if Hamlet truly was mad, then despite Claudiuss prayers, he would have killed the king. Nonetheless, Hamlet contemplates the consequences of doing so, and realizes that Claudius, purged of all sins, would go to heaven while Old Hamlet, sinning, had to walk to the earths at night and burn in the fires. Furthermore, Hamlet decides to kill the king when he is drunk asleep, or in his rage. Or in th incestuous pleasure of his bed, at game-a-swearing, or about some act that has no relish of salvation in t-. This scene, if cut out, would truly blemish the foundations of the characters of Hamlet and Claudius. Never in any other scene, except perhaps the To be or Not to be soliloquy, does a character pronounce himself in such depth or quality as in this one.