Hamlet's Tragic Flaw


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A tragic flaw is a character's weak point or vulnerability, the place where he can be destroyed. Hamlet's tragic flaw is his indecisiveness. He overthinks avenging his father's death and clearly is torn about murdering his uncle, much as he dislikes him.

Hamlet's Tragic Flaw

Tragic Flaw in Shakespeare's Hamlet



What is Hamlet’s tragic flaw? Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to avenge his father’s death because he hasn’t been able to conquer himself in his internal conflict. This recalls the cliche- “One’s greatest enemy is no other than oneself”. I think procrastination is the inaction that leads to Hamlet’s downfall and behind the inaction, there were three main flaws: being idealistic, fatalistic and over analytical. Idealism stops Hamlet from avenging the murder of his father, when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius (his uncle, the murderer of his father ) when he is praying. It is in 3.3.89-91: “Am I then……horrid hent”. Here, Hamlet wants an ideal revenge, that his opponent will suffer damnation in hell.

Since Claudius is praying, Hamlet can’t bear to kill him because of his belief that Claudius’s soul will be purified and sent to heaven, hence he decides to kill Claudius at a more appropriate moment, like his father (King Hamlet ) was killed. The time Claudius was praying was the only time in the whole play, where he is left unguarded, which means Hamlet has let go of the best chance to kill Claudius just for the sake of waiting for the perfect moment. Therefore, Hamlet’s idealism causes him to procrastinate.

Besides from his idealism, Hamlet’s fatalism also leads him to his tragic flaw. Hamlet shows signs of being fatalistic by making the claim in 1.4.29: “cannot choose his own origin”. According to Hamlet, a person is not to be stated guilty of having a vicious nature or a natural flaw that he is born with, because it isn’t in the hands of the person to choose where he came from (1.4.27-28). Furthermore, Hamlet comments that most people would rather bear those ills we have rather than fly to others that we not know of: 3.1.89-90. Since he would rather choose to suffer from the torment of fate that he believes in, he cares not to change. As a result, he commits nothing.

Moreover, before his duel with Laertes, Horatio asked Hamlet if he wanted to stop the duel, making him aware that the King might have set up a scheme for him. Nevertheless, Hamlet replies: 5.2.210-11: “There’s a special providence in the fall of sparrow”. Since Hamlet believes in predestination, he walks into Claudius’s trap even if he knows it, because he believes that if he is destined to die then he will die, and there is no way he can figure a way out of it. This is how fatalism becomes deadly for Hamlet.

Above all the reasons, the most important tragic flaw Hamlet possesses is being over analytical. He refers to it as: “craven scruple Of thinking too precisely” in 4.4.42-43. Further in the same speech in 4.4.44-46, he says “which quartered has but one part wisdom and three parts coward”. In this, he is simply criticising his own hesitation. It is intelligent to analyse the situation and be cautious, however too much of it makes him see of himself as a coward. Due to this tragic flaw, Hamlet has been unable to make important decisions. By considering so many different alternatives and point of views, Hamlet is always kind of finding himself an excuse to procrastinate. None other than dissatisfaction over took him. As a result, he is passively taken up in the sequence of events as the play unfolds, which lead him to death. In conclusion, as heroic and refined as Hamlet is, he still suffers a downfall which leads to the tragic flaw. By the end, when he finally decides to take action, its too late. In short, Hamlet’s flaws illustrate the vulnerability of mankind especially those men with a romantic or philosophical bent, as he himself was.

Hamlet's Tragic Flaw

Hamlet's Tragic Flaw

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Hamlet’s Flaw Essay



What is Hamlet’s tragic flaw? Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inability to avenge his father’s death because he hasn’t been able to conquer himself in his internal conflict. This recalls the cliche- “One’s greatest enemy is no other than oneself”. I think procrastination is the inaction that leads to Hamlet’s downfall and behind the inaction, there were three main flaws: being idealistic, fatalistic and over analytical. Idealism stops Hamlet from avenging the murder of his father, when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius (his uncle, the murderer of his father ) when he is praying. It is in 3.3.89-91: “Am I then……horrid hent”. Here, Hamlet wants an ideal revenge, that his opponent will suffer damnation in hell.

Since Claudius is praying, Hamlet can’t bear to kill him because of his belief that Claudius’s soul will be purified and sent to heaven, hence he decides to kill Claudius at a more appropriate moment, like his father (King Hamlet ) was killed. The time Claudius was praying was the only time in the whole play, where he is left unguarded, which means Hamlet has let go of the best chance to kill Claudius just for the sake of waiting for the perfect moment. Therefore, Hamlet’s idealism causes him to procrastinate.

Besides from his idealism, Hamlet’s fatalism also leads him to his tragic flaw. Hamlet shows signs of being fatalistic by making the claim in 1.4.29: “cannot choose his own origin”. According to Hamlet, a person is not to be stated guilty of having a vicious nature or a natural flaw that he is born with, because it isn’t in the hands of the person to choose where he came from (1.4.27-28). Furthermore, Hamlet comments that most people would rather bear those ills we have rather than fly to others that we not know of: 3.1.89-90. Since he would rather choose to suffer from the torment of fate that he believes in, he cares not to change. As a result, he commits nothing.

Moreover, before his duel with Laertes, Horatio asked Hamlet if he wanted to stop the duel, making him aware that the King might have set up a scheme for him. Nevertheless, Hamlet replies: 5.2.210-11: “There’s a special providence in the fall of sparrow”. Since Hamlet believes in predestination, he walks into Claudius’s trap even if he knows it, because he believes that if he is destined to die then he will die, and there is no way he can figure a way out of it. This is how fatalism becomes deadly for Hamlet.

Above all the reasons, the most important tragic flaw Hamlet possesses is being over analytical. He refers to it as: “craven scruple Of thinking too precisely” in 4.4.42-43. Further in the same speech in 4.4.44-46, he says “which quartered has but one part wisdom and three parts coward”. In this, he is simply criticising his own hesitation. It is intelligent to analyse the situation and be cautious, however too much of it makes him see of himself as a coward. Due to this tragic flaw, Hamlet has been unable to make important decisions. By considering so many different alternatives and point of views, Hamlet is always kind of finding himself an excuse to procrastinate. None other than dissatisfaction over took him. As a result, he is passively taken up in the sequence of events as the play unfolds, which lead him to death. In conclusion, as heroic and refined as Hamlet is, he still suffers a downfall which leads to the tragic flaw. By the end, when he finally decides to take action, its too late. In short, Hamlet’s flaws illustrate the vulnerability of mankind especially those men with a romantic or philosophical bent, as he himself was.

Hamlet's Tragic Flaw

Related Essay Topics

Hamlet as a Tragic Hero Hamlet's Tragic Flaw Act 1 Scene 1 Summary Act 1 Scene 2 Summary Act 1 Scene 3 Summary Act 1 Scene 4 Summary Act 1 Scene 5 Summary Act 2 Scene 1 Summary Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Act 3 Scene 1 Summary Act 3 Scene 2 Summary Act 3 Scene 3 Summary Act 3 Scene 4 Summary Act 4 Scene 1 Summary Act 4 Scene 2 Summary Act 4 Scene 3 Summary Act 4 Scene 4 Summary Act 4 Scene 5 Summary Act 4 Scene 6 Summary Act 4 Scene 7 Summary Act 5 Scene 1 Summary Act 5 Scene 2 Summary Characters Quotes Summary Symbolism Themes

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