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Hamlet as the Tragic Hero

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Hamlet as the Tragic Hero

Hamlet is the best known tragedy in literature today. Here, Shakespeare exposes Hamlet’s flaws as a heroic character. The tragedy in this play is the result of the main character’s unrealistic ideals and his inability to overcome his weakness of indecisiveness. This fatal attribute led to the death of several people which included his mother and the King of Denmark. Although he is described as being a brave and intelligent person, his tendency to procrastinate prevented him from acting on his father’s murder, his mother’s marriage, and his uncle’s ascension to the throne.

Hamlet thinking this trait was genetic, speaks of his father’s tragic flaw that would ultimately lead to his death.

So, oft it chances in particular men,

That for some vicious mole of nature in them,

As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty

(Since nature cannot choose his origin),

By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,

Or by some habit that too much o’er-leavens

The form of plausive manners—that these men,

Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,

Their virtues else, be they as pure as grace,

Shall in the general censure take corruption

From that particular fault. The dram of evil

Doth all the noble substance of a doubt

Hamlet makes reference to the one deficiency that is his specific fault. Here again, Shakespeare attempts to justify Hamlet’s inability to act decisively. He writes, “As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty (Act1 Scene 1 Line 26).

Hamlet’s tragic flaw was shown to him in a dream by the ghost of his father. His father tells him that he was murdered by his uncle, Claudius. In this scene, the tragic flaw was transferred and manifested itself in Hamlet’s actions. His obsession with revenge and death is all he can think about. He needs to act quickly and decisively but finds himself procrastinating about what to do. In Act III, Hamlet holds the knife over the head of his uncle, Claudius, but cannot strike the fatal blow. Instead, he writes a play about the same scenario to study the reaction of Claudius as to a clue of his guilt. After he decides Claudius is guilty of murdering his father, he still relents from taking his revenge. He says, “Haste me to know ‘t, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thought of love May sweep to my revenge.
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