Analysis of Prince Hamlet's Character in William Shakespeare's Play

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Analysis of Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play

Shakespeare's Hamlet is at the outset a typical revenge play. However,

it is possible to see Prince Hamlet as a more complex character as he

can be seen as various combinations of a weak revenger, a tragic hero

and a political misfit. In order to fully understand the world in

which Hamlet finds himself, it is necessary to examine all three of

these roles and either dismiss them or justify Hamlet's behavior as a


As a tragic hero, Hamlet displays many typical qualities of a

traditional hero in a Elizabethan revenge tragedy.

Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark and therefore belongs to a social

elite. Hamlet can be described as being too noble to take revenge. As

a very well educated scholar of Wittenberg University in Sweden he has

to think extensively before taking revenge. He feels the need to

question revenge yet he is reluctant to do so rashly without

considerable thought "thus conscience does make cowards of us all". We

see that this happens in the first few moments of the play when Hamlet

doubts the ghost is his father and he needs further prompting and

reassurance throughout the play "So art thou to revenge, when thou

shalt hear". Hamlet constantly rationalises and stops himself from

acting with any degree of passion. This could be seen either as a

weakness or as a personal strength. Hamlet can and is frequently

described, as a man with a tragic flaw, this being that his tendency

to contemplate his actions is not a positive quality but that instead

this brings about his downfall. Hamlet appears to many critics to be

too much of an intellectual to play the role as a typ...

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lead to a great deal of isolation with his native Denmark. Apart from

Horatio, Hamlet cannot trust anyone, which increases his sense of


My view is that Hamlet fits all the three categories well and that not

one of the views: weak revenger, tragic, hero or political misfit,

classifies him accurately. He is a combination of all three and at

times vacillates between weak revenger and tragic hero, making him

particularly venerable and open to attack. The political problems in

Denmark are a contributing factor which simply lead Hamlet to his

death but have no bearing on his ability to be either a tragic hero or

a weak revenger. I think that Hamlet is a tragic hero with a fatal

flaw that he think to much, and is too introspective that ultimately

leads to his own and other friends and family members' death.
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