"The Tragedy of Hamlet"

Essay by mustajab May 2007

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Hamlet is one of the most celebrated tragedies of all time. This work of art has mesmerized audiences and readers for centuries and continues to till this day. Shakespeare’s unique ability to build a character and to show a recurring tragic flaw also known as hamartia is remarkable. The entire play revolves around Hamlet’s inability to successfully accomplish his intention to kill Claudius.

The defining tragic flaw of Hamlet seems to be his failure to achieve a goal quickly and painlessly. There are many hurdles that Hamlet has to overcome before he can complete his endeavor. The hurdles are the thoughts that come to his mind. At any major decision he begins to question the rationale for doing such and such. It seems as if there are other questions that are on Hamlet’s mind which do not have as much to do with the motive.

In Act III scene one is where the audience witnesses Hamlet’s inquisitive nature.

He says, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” (Page 632) From there on he argues to live or not to live. He continues, “But the dread of something after death.” (Page 632) He questions the uncertainty of what lies ahead if he did commit suicide. Furthermore, “Than fly to others that we know not of.” (Page 632) It is this very nature of Hamlet that leads to his inevitable demise.

Through the rest of the play the hamartia becomes manifest and branches out into everything Hamlet tries to do. Once it becomes apparent that Claudius killed his father Hamlet rushes to slay Claudius. He is unable to avenge his father’s death because of his morality. He witnesses Claudius showing some sort of remorse by praying on his knees. Claudius said “A brother’s murder. Pray can I...