Hamlet's Soliloquy: Now might I do it pat, now he is praying (3.3.77-100)
Hamlet has thought himself prepared to "drink hot blood" (3.2.382) and carry out the murder of the King. Now, as he happens upon the unattended Claudius, the time has come to take action, but Hamlet finds that he is unable to kill. Hamlet's reason for delay is that Claudius is in the midst of praying, and in order for revenge to be complete, the King must be engaged in some sinful act such as sex, gambling, or drinking, and thus be condemned to eternal damnation. While it is true that similar reasoning is common in other revenge plays, such vengence seems unworthy of our noble prince.
Many critics believe that Hamlet uses Claudius's prayer as an excuse for further delay because his conscience will not allow him to commit premeditated murder. Others claim that it is not Hamlet's altruism which saves Claudius in this scene, but his own paralyzing habit of "thinking too precisely on th'event" (4.4.41). However, the second argument is moot because the basis of his procrastination is his inability to commit premeditated murder.
Ironically, Hamlet's soliloquy is ultimately irrelevant, for Claudius is not sincerely repentant, as he reveals in the concluding couplet of scene 3:
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (97-8)
How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Hamlet Soliloquy Analysis. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet/soliloquies/doitpatanalysis.html >.