Hamlet has been a controversial protagonist of literature for many years. Some have believed his efforts to be full of cunning and wit, while others have argued that his efforts were those of stupidity. All of his actions and schemes to avenge his father's death point to only one conclusion. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the author suggests that Hamlet, through his inaction and bad judgment, is a terribly weak hero.

Hamlet is undoubtedly a well-spoken and bright man, but his words would often fall short of taking any action. All of his intricate plans are indirect, deceptive attempts to reveal Claudius's guilt. Because Hamlet chooses to feign insanity, his uncle's guilt may have been found, but there are certainly more direct paths that would spare the suffering and death that prevails at the end of the play. His furtive attempts cause him to be an instrument for action, rather than an agent. He plays the madman all too often, thwarting his own intentions and plans by manipulating those around him. Manipulation gets the best of him, though, succeeding only in torturing Ophelia and his mother, when his real intentions lie with Claudius. Hamlet realizes how his intentions towards Claudius have remained hidden, saying "Sure, He that made us with such large discourse/ Looking before and after, gave us not that capability and god-like reason to fust in us unus"d." They are admirable words, but Hamlet himself is aware that he is failing to avenge his father's death by "letting all sleep.".

Hamlet's awareness of the poor judgment he used in carrying out his schemes grew with each passing day. As he passes Fortinbras's battle, Hamlet's contempt for his own actions becomes more intense than any other time. Hamlet says:.

Rightly to be great.

Is not to stir without great argument,.

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw.

When honour's at the stake.

In admiration of Fortinbras's initiative, Hamlet prmosise "O, form this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing more.