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Hamlet's Inability to Act on Impulse is his Tragic Flaw in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Hamlet's Inability to Act on Impulse is his Tragic Flaw in Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet is the most written about tragedy in the history of man. But, why is it a tragedy? Is it because Hamlet has a tragic flaw that creates his downfall? Or is it that all the cards are stacked against him since the beginning of the play and there is no way he can prevail? I believe that it is a tragedy because of Hamlet's tragic flaw. Hamlet's tragic flaw is that he cannot act on impulse for things that require quick, decisive behavior, and that he acts on impulse for things that require more contemplation than is given by him.

Hamlet speaks of his father's tragic flaw that ultimately led him to his death, but it applies equally well to himself:

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,

As infinite as man may undergo,

Shall in the general censure take corruption

From that particular fault. The dram of evil

Doth all the noble substance of a doubt

To his own scandal. (1.4.23-38)

Hamlet speaks of the one defect that is in particular men from birth, and the fact that that one defect is his "particular fault". Hamlet says that this "fault" will corrupt the man. It seems to be an excuse from Shakespeare for why Hamlet will not act on impulse. As though he is giving the audience a hint that Hamlet has a tragic flaw. Shakespeare writes "As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty / (since nature cannot choose his origin)" (1.4.26). Hamlet gives reason of his own flaw here. Although he is talking about his father having a tragic flaw, he states "particular men" (1.4.23), he is not denying that his character does not have a tragic flaw. Hamlet is making an excuse for any possible flaws that might arise in the play.

Shakespeare shows us that Hamlet retains his the ability to think lucidly and in depth with his monologue (3.1.56-89). Anytime that Hamlet has to act on something, such as in the church when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius while he was praying, He stops to think before he acts.
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