Hamlet’s “Tragic Flaw”
Shakespeare’s tragedies normally have a tragic flaws and Hamlet is no exception. In Hamlet, the protagonist experiences a deep dilemma of revenge, but with a sense of in-action. Throughout the play he broods and continuously questions himself, whether he is able to act or not. It is his ability to act in time that leads to his tragic end. This essay will explore the circumstances that lead Hamlet to his tragic fall Hamlet always seems to be a depressed, emotionally troubled young man; which can be seen right in the beginning of the play; however his troubles are increased when he sees his father Ghost;
“I am thy father’s spirit, Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confined to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away”. (Act 1, Scene V) Even though his father asks him not trouble his mother; however he could not stop himself and denies the judgment of his mother, Queen Gertrude, about his unhappiness seemingly, “Seems madam? Nay it is. I know not `seems’. ” (Act I, Acene II). The murder of his father is told by the ghost in the following words.
“A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown” (Act 1, Scene V) This information gives him a sudden urge to break free from mourning. Since the acquaintance with his father’s ghost, Hamlet starts taking revenge. The first person to settle score with is Claudius; . “I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, That youth and observation copied there,
And thy commandment all-alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain,” (Act I, Scene V) Being a man who is used to brooding rather than acting, Hamlet is confused and lost again. He has no idea; how would he execute his revenge. He lacks focus and courage to put a plan to action. The dilemma leads Hamlet into having confusing conversation with other characters in the play that causes more damage than good. His tragic flaw keeps on growing; he comes to the conclusion (without any proof) that that Claudius is the murderer of his father.
In fact he only acknowledges this from a ghost. “May be the devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape. ” (Act II, Scene II) Hamlet sets a play picturing a similar chronology of his father’s murder. Assuming that if Claudius shows a bizarre reactions after watching the play, it proves that Claudius is indeed has murder his father. “The play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King. ” (II, ii, 616-617). Being a man of confused mind; Hamlet appearance changes from scene-to-scene.
Hamlet stays mysterious; as he keeps on revealing various sides of his personality with many contradictions; yet delaying his decision to act. In his conversation with Ophelia, Hamlet speaks his point of view on beauty to her. He points out that honesty is a mental quality and fairness a physical quality. He adds that a person’s appearance will affects how he/she thinks or feel. However in the middle he jumps from the topic as he talks about the drama with actor. He tells him what lines to read, “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action” (Act III, Scene II)
Instead of killing his uncle who is the real murderer; Hamlet thinks of killing Claudius in the most sinful condition; again a tactical delay and wrong killing. He should have been alarmed by his behaviour after killing Claudius, but he still delays his Uncle’s murder. Instead he goes to his mother and blames her of marrying the brother- in- law. He accuses her of not being true to herself. “O shame, where is thy blush”” (III, iv, 90). In reality Hamlet is not true to himself as he keeps on delaying his decision to avenge his father death.
As ever as confused, his tragic thinking and brooding leads him nowhere. He curses himself for being coward and inapt. Hamlet realizes that he is a coward for not taking revenge. It comes to this that Hamlet seems to give up plan, but its during the funereal that he realizes that he must fight back, as he claims his right for the throne. However he soon ends up in a duel against Laertes. It is here that Hamlet finally succeeds in taking the delayed revenge killing Claudius, but at a very high cost. Observing the whole play, Hamlet, who is the protagonist has the tragic flaw of unstable emotions and will.
These weaknesses leads Hamlet to keep on brooding instead of acting; he is often stuck up in confusion . His status is of a confused man who has lost meaning in life. On one side lies his duty as a son to avenge his father’s death; on the other lies killing his own uncle. He misses chance after chance to kill his murderous uncle and instead harms many other people who were not supposed to be killed. The problem with Hamlet is his too much thinking. He always needs time to think, before he does anything and often after too much thinking he loses interest or end up somewhere else.
It is this tragic flaw that makes Hamlet’s confused and miserable as he keeps on pending his decision. The problem of delay in his revenge affects not only him, but all the people around him; which towards the end creates a complete chaos. Conclusion Looking at the above arguments it is clear that Hamlet fall happened due to his in ability to act in time.
W. Thomas MacCary, Hamlet: A Guide to the Play . Greenwood Press, 1998. Richard Corum, Understanding Hamlet:. Greenwood Press, 1998. Bertram Joseph, Conscience and the King: A Study of Hamlet . Chatto and Windus, 1953.Sample Essay of Masterpapers.com