Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw         In the play Hamlet (1307-1407) by William

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

Downloaded 1790 times

Hamlet's Tragic Flaw In the play Hamlet (1307-1407) by William Shakespeare, a young prince named Hamlet is forced to deal with many things: his father, King Hamlet has died and his mother, Gertrude, has quickly remarried. She is now married to King Hamlet's brother Claudius. Claudius also replaces King Hamlet as King of Denmark. So now prince Hamlet must deal with his father's death, his mothers "o'erhasty marriage" (2.2.57), and the fact that his uncle is the king when that position should rightfully be his. This is a lot for young Hamlet to handle. He even continues to wear black months after his father's death. Hamlet learns that a ghost looking exactly like his keeps appearing. When Hamlet speaks to the ghost he learns that his father was murdered. Hamlet is stunned when the ghost tells him "the serpent that did sting thy father's life / now wears his crown" (1.5.39-40).

Hamlet learns that Claudius murdered his father by pouring poison in his ear. With all of the things Hamlet was already upset about he now had an even bigger problem to face, avenging his father's death. With this news one would think that Hamlet would find his uncle and kill him right away. But Hamlet does not seek out Claudius. Instead, he waits. Hamlet's tragic flaw is the fact that he thinks before he acts. Hamlet is a procrastinator. Hamlet could have saved many lives, including his own, if he would have just trusted the ghost and acted on impulse instead of thinking so much.

One of the lives Hamlet could have saved is also one of the lives he takes himself. The first to die is Polonius, chief counselor to Claudius. Polonius dies when Hamlet stabs him through a wall hanging. "Is it the king?" (3.4.28) asks Hamlet. Unfortunately, it is not the king and Hamlet has killed an innocent man. The death of Polonius could have been prevented if Hamlet would not have questioned what the ghost told him. Hamlet was unsure of the ghosts honesty so he made the visiting players put on a play called The Murder of Gonzago. This led to the truth being revealed. When Hamlet learns that the ghost told him the truth he still does not kill Claudius. If he would have killed Claudius right then and there then Polonius would never have died. Polonius would not have been behind the arras if Hamlet would have killed Claudius as soon as he was sure of his guilt.

Ophelia's death could have also been prevented if Hamlet would have killed Claudius right away. Ophelia becomes mad after her father's death. Whether or not she was mad because her father died, or because the man she loved (Hamlet) is the one who killed her father is uncertain. Ophelia just walks around the castle singing tunes that do not make any sense in an almost trance-like state. Opelia falls into the stream when the branch she is sitting on breaks. She was weaving garlands and hanging them from the tree. Ophelia dies when Hamlet is away but her death is still his fault. If Hamlet would have killed Claudius right away then Polonius would not have died, and if Polonius did not die than Ophelia never would have gone mad, and if Ophelia was not mad then she may not have been up in the willow tree in the first place, Climbing a tree is not something ladies did in that time period, and Ophelia was taught throughout her whole life to be lady like and obedient.

Hamlet also could have prevented the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildentstern if he would not have procrastinated. Although Hamlet did purposely have his two friends killed, their deaths still could have been prevented. The two men would not have been spying on Hamlet if If Hamlet would have killed Claudius right away. Because afterall, Claudius was the one who asked them to spy on him. Also, the trip to England never would have taken place. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern should not have been killed.

Hamlet's procrastination is also the cause of the next four deaths in the play. Hamlet learns that he is challenged to a duel with Laertes which is to happen before the king and queen. When the duel begins Hamlet has a sword in his hand, and Claudius perfectly reachable, but he still does not kill him. It is a shame too because what Hamlet does not know is that Claudius planned the duel in order to kill him. In an earlier scene Claudius and Laertes make plans to poison the tip of Laertes's sword so that the slightest cut will kill Hamlet. Claudius decides that if Laertes cannot cut Hamlet they will need another way, so Claudius will also put some of the poison in a drink which Hamlet will drink after he has won the duel. Throughout the duel the poison ends up killing four people when it was really only intended for one. Gertrude is poisoned after drinking in celebration after Hamlet gets a second hit on Laertes. Claudius dies after Hamlet finally decides it is time to kill him. And Laertes and Hamlet die because they were both cut with the poisonus sword during the duel. If Hamlet would have used his thinking time to think of the best way to kill Claudius, instead of thinking about whether or not the ghost was real, or whether or not the ghost was honest, then so many people would not have died.

Hamlet killing Polonius is the start of all of the other character's deaths. Laertes's death ties in with Polonius's death. If Laertes was not so angry at Hamlet for killing his father then he may not have been so easily manipulated by Claudius in the plan to kill Hamlet. If Laertes was not so angry then the duel between him and Hamlet would have never occurred. When Hamlet kills Polonius a domino effect begins with the deaths of the other characters. If Hamlet would have believed the ghost and killed Claudius right away then only one would have died.

Hamlet wanted to wait for the right time to kill Claudius, and because of this eight people lost their lives when only one person needed to. Hamlet is a great thinker but his thinking caused him great distress and may have even made him a little crazy. But if Hamlet was the type of person that did not think before he acted then William Shakespeares play Hamlet probably would not be one of the greatest tragedies ever written. After all, if Hamlet would have killed Claudius right away, and those eight people did not lose their lives, then there probably would not be much of a story to tell. Hamlet would have became king and everyone would have lived happily everafter. Like we have never heard that one before.