The Hamlet Answer
So, technically, why doesn't Hamlet kill the King when the old guy's praying?
Because the play would be over.
A three-and-seven-eighths act play wasn't of much use to anybody in the Elizabethan theatre where audiences expected 5 acts.
The psychological reasons are all correct, but they're the excuse the playwright used on the audience to make sure he'd end up with at least the minimum length of a 5-act play. And this is why playwriting is both an art and a craft.
Thanks to the great Shakespearean scholar and editor of The Riverside Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans for this concept.
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