Essay by alessiadilauro November 2014

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Enduring Tragedy as a Secondary Character

in "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

Classic tragic tales tend to contain catharsis, such as sorrow, remorse and anger. Such a story most often comprises a hero who is endowed with hamartia, a flaw in character, which ultimately leads to their demise. Aristotle suggests that in order to experience tragedy, one must be a hero of noble stature. Most definitely he is not an ordinary man, but a man with a quality of outstanding greatness. Contrary to this belief, Arthur Miller's states, the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy as a king. According to Miller, there is a misconception in tragedy, and this misconception can be clearly noted in William Shakespeare's, "Hamlet." The play "Hamlet", tells a tragic tale of a son's odyssey to avenge the death of his beloved father.

Hamlet is seen as the tragic hero of the play; however, he is not the sole character who encounters adversity. Secondary characters such as Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, all endure tragedy to the same extent as the calamitous hero, Hamlet.

Ophelia, Polonius' daughter, is a beautiful young woman whose passionate and loving nature leads to her own destruction. Ophelia and Hamlet have a forbidden love for one another, however Hamlet's quest for revenge begins to take presence over his feelings of Ophelia. In setting the stage for his revenge, Hamlet decides to portray himself as having gone insane. As part of this portrayal, he betrays his affection for Ophelia when he tells "I did love you once." (Shakespeare 142). It saddens the audience to see that Ophelia continues to love Hamlet despite his mistreatment of her. Ophelia's tragedy continues, as she never gets to hear for herself Hamlet's true...