Hamlet, Shakespeare uses Hamlet, the main character, to portray ideas of deceit, desire, and death. A transition in Hamlet’s state of mind ultimately develops the plays theme as the lack of decisive actions resulting from the clash between logical rationale and medieval intuition. Hamlet’s struggle between his rationale and primordial instincts causes his constant turmoil and lack of decisiveness. His state of mind spurs out of control in the wake of his father’s death and his mother’s rapid remarriage.
Yet his real turmoil begins when the ghost of his father reveals to Hamlet the truth regarding his father’s death. Hamlet’s mind becomes all consumed with the thoughts of revenge: “and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain” (Act 1, Scene 5). Yet, though his first instinct is to seek revenge, Hamlet’s character at this point in the play is one of virtue and integrity, fearing the consequences of his actions. For now, Hamlet is ruled by his logical rationale.
As the play progresses, Hamlet becomes more and more torn; he fails to carry out revenge by holding onto his moral reasoning. In his turmoil, Hamlet criticizes himself as a coward, with such insults as, “what a rogue and pleasant slave am l” (Act 2, Scene 2), and “why, what an ass am l” (Act 2, Scene 2). He is self-abusive in his expressions and shows deep depression by comparing himself to the lowest and most worthless thing he can think of. Up to this point, Hamlet’s metamorphosis is limited to his inner struggles, as shown through his soliloquies.
Entering Act 4, Hamlet is closer to reaching a resolution. Triggered by Fortinbra’s ruthlessness, Hamlet begins to realize his excessive over-thinking. It dawns upon him that he had been thinking too much and acting too little: “Now, whether it be bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on th’ event… ‘ do not know why yet I live to say, “This things to do,” sith I have cause and will and strength and means to do’t” (Act 4, Scene 4).
This pivotal moment marks Hamlet’s full transformation; he no longer has an inner truggle, but is absolute in his plans to restore his family honor. With his newfound determination to avenge his father’s murder, Hamlet vows, “O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth” (Act 4, Scene 4). His passion for revenge overcomes his reasoning. Hamlet’s lack of decisiveness resulted from a clash between his rationale and medieval intuition. Yet, his state of mind is brought to a complete metamorphosis when he allows for his instincts rule over his reasoning.