Here’s a random thought that came to me while waiting for my wife’s car at the shop (yes, again – don’t buy a VW Routan.)
Of the few things we know about old King Hamlet, we know that he fought Old Fortinbras in honorable one-on-one combat. True?
Claudius, on the other hand, is a sneaky backstabber who poisons King Hamlet in his sleep, and then later not only tries to pawn off his dirty work on England, but when that fails, he manipulates Laertes into doing it. Claudius isn’t much for facing his enemies.
So, then, where does Hamlet fall on that family tree?
Thinking Claudius to be behind the arras, he doesn’t exactly say “Come out and face me,” now does he? He blindly runs him through and hopes for the best.
Then, later? When he finds out about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s secret mission to have him killed (a mission they didn’t even know about), does he do them in? Nope – a little trickier with the note and he, too, lets England do his dirty work.
It is only in his final rage (panic?) that he murders Claudius in front of everybody. An unarmed Claudius, mind you. Granted, Claudius didn’t exactly deserve a fair fight after everything he did, but still. You’d like to think that the good guy at least attempts to win a fair fight (I’m thinking Romeo/Tybalt – Romeo didn’t sneak up on him, he came straight at him).
Kind of makes you wonder whether Hamlet’s more like his dad’s brother, than his dad.