Hamlet as Tragic Hero Essay
1361 Words6 Pages
Hamlet, the titled character of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare’s most prominent play, is arguably the most complex, relatable, and deep character created by Shakespeare. His actions and thoughts throughout the play show the audience how fully developed and unpredictable he is with his mixed personalities. What Hamlet goes through in the play defines the adventures encountered by a tragic hero. In this timeless tragedy, despite Hamlet’s great nobility and knowledge, he has a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his ironic death. The conception of this character dates back to as early as the 13th century. The first story that Hamlet’s tale can be traced back to is Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum (“History of the Danes”).…show more content…
The character’s stature plays an important role as well. In that, the nobler the person is, the greater the fall at the climax of the play, thus evoking strong emotions from the audience. In this revenge tragedy, which is a play in which the plot typically centers on a spectacular attempt to avenge the murder of a family member, Hamlet’s call to adventure is when the ghost, whom he believes to be the ghost of his recently deceased father, beseeches Hamlet that he avenge his death (Charters and Charters 1251). At first looking at the ghost, he questions the authority of him and contemplates that the apparition is just the devil tempting him: Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable
Thou com’st in such a questionable shape (I. iv. 39-43)
This is the first time the audience becomes aware of Hamlet’s ability to be a great thinker and philosopher. However, from this moment on, Hamlet is divulged into a downward spiral of an obsession of death and tragedy. This onus that he must set things right that his conscience forces him to carry during the play is the inception of his hamartia. Hamlet’s obsession of avenging his father’s death causes him to not always think clearly. At times Hamlet is suffering from analysis paralysis
Hamlet: A Tragic Hero Essays
873 Words4 Pages
“A tragic flaw is an error or defect in the tragic hero that leads to his downfall.” (http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/literature/bedlit/glossary_t.htm) In the history of literature, if the question of who was the most indecisive character was brought up, Hamlet would be a prime candidate. Hamlet had numerous chances to reap revenge for his father’s death but was only able to follow through after the accidental murder of his mother. Hamlet’s inability to make a decision ultimately leads to his demise, and for that is his tragic flaw.
What makes a tragic hero? Dr. Peter Smith, Associate Professor of English at Kentucky State University, broke the archetypical characteristics of a tragic hero down into six groups. Of the six, four will…show more content…
Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to act. We are first introduced to this flaw in Act I Scene iv through Act I Scene v. Hamlet encounters the apparition that appears to be his father in scene iv and agrees with Horatio and Marcellus that it does resemble the late king. When he is beckoned to follow the spirit, he does so only after questioning the spirit’s intent: “Be though a spirit of health or goblin damn’d/ Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell/ Be thy intents wicked or charitable…” (Clark, 1014) He wonders if the spirit is truly his father or only the devil trying to trick him. In scene v the spirit tells him that he was murdered by his brother and that Hamlet must “revenge his [father’s] foul and most unnatural murder.” (Clark, 1015) Hamlet does not jump to conclusions but rather decides that he must prove his uncle’s guilt by having a play performed (Act III Scene ii) that emulates what may have happened when his father was killed. Claudius’ reaction will uncover his guilt or innocence. In the course of the play Claudius calls for the play to be stopped and leaves abruptly. Hamlet takes this to be a sign of guilt. In Act III Scene iii, Hamlet encounters his uncle alone, in his room, praying. As he prepares to kill his uncle, he realizes killing him while in prayer will save his soul and send him to heaven. His father was not able to repent before his death and neither should his uncle. Instead, he