William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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William Shakespeare's Hamlet

A tragic play is one in which the protagonist dies through disaster

evoked by a combination of personal faults and circumstances out with

the character's control. Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is true to this genre,

depicting a noble, but flawed, character that is subject to outrageous

twists of fate ultimately leading to his demise. However, to what

extent can Hamlet's downfall be attributed to his own failings?

From the start of the play, the reader is shown a tormented Hamlet,

mourning the loss of his father and insulted by his mother's hasty

remarriage to his uncle. However, this sadness and disappointment

quickly turns to wrath as the ghost of his father reveals to him that

it was Hamlet's new stepfather who murdered him. As the play unfolds,

all these factors play an integral role in the young prince's untimely

end. It is also notable that Hamlet had little control over these

events, seeing as his father was killed while he was abroad at

university and even if he were there, he would not have been able to

intervene, as he would not have known of Claudius' murderous

intentions. Similarly, Hamlet was unable to stop Gertrude's marriage

to his uncle seen as his protests to that end fell on deaf ears.

However, these actions, in themselves, did not cause the massacre that

would end the play but rather Hamlet's reactions. For example, Hamlet

possessed an unhealthy fascination with his mother and rather than

being happy that his mother will now have love and companionship in

her new marriage, he harasses her and constantly bemoans the

incestuous nature of her union with Claudius. This fascination is


... middle of paper ... to Hamlet's willingness to die, and thus to his kamikaze mission

against his uncle.

Perhaps the true beauty of Shakespeare is the room he gives to

audience to interpret the plays in whatever way they wish. Hamlet is a

prime example of this, with perhaps as many different ways to look at

it as there are pages in the script. The matter of Hamlet's role in

his own demise is one of the play's greatest ambiguities and as such

it is impossible to attribute it to one factor, in fact it is the

delicate balance struck between unfortunate fate and foolish behaviour

that makes Hamlet such a great tragedy. However, the impact of these

outrageous twists of fate could have been dampened if not completely

averted had Hamlet not reacted as he did and so it is fair to say that

overall Hamlet is the one to blame for his own death.
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