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Is Hamlet a Tragic Hero Essay Example

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Is Hamlet a Tragic Hero

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Even though Hamlet kills Polonius and becomes instrumental for the death of Ophelia he expresses his feelings as if he wishes never to have killed him. This is a touching scene mainly because it shows Hamlet’s true feelings towards death, not only towards his father but his true love. Hamlet speaks as if he will do anything to get Ophelia back to life, which is not characteristic of a villain.The tragedy of Hamlet can be best understood with regard to Aristotle’s conception of a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a person of noble birth, who having all heroic qualities, suffers from a ‘hamartia’, a tragic flaw or weakness in his character that leads to his catastrophe or downfall. Hamlet confronts the ghost of his father in Scene V, Act I of the play and the ghost discloses that he is murdered by Claudius and that Hamlet has to avenge his death. The plot develops based on the Elizabethans’ traditional belief that the murdered person’s soul will not be saved until his murder is being avenged. The spectator expects Hamlet to take revenge on Claudius, the antagonist of the play, which he does not. Hamlet, on the other hand, postpones his action to the last moment. At first, he is suspicious regarding the credulousness of the ghost and he waits to make sure whether Claudius himself has committed the cruel deed. After the staging of ‘the play within the play’ he is quite convinced of his Uncle’s and mother’s part in the murder. Even then he is incapable of acting promptly because of his tragic flaw. His mind is full of thoughts and plans regarding the revenge. In Act III, Scene I he tells Orphellia: “I am very proud revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in” (III. However, instead of taking his revenge, Hamlet is moved by moral, psychological and philosophical speculations. He is in conflict with Claudius; however, his conflict within his own self is much more powerful, deeper and stronger. The ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy best displays the inner struggles in him. He even thinks of committing suicide but is unable to subject himself to the thought as he thinks that people will consider it to be cowardice. Thus, he makes a lot of plans and schemes. However, he fails to do the inevitable and this procrastination causes his own downfall at the

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preview essay on Is Hamlet a Tragic Hero
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Undergraduate
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