Shakespeare's tragic hero Hamlet's fatal flaw is his failure to act immediately to kill Claudius, his uncle and murderer of his father. His tragic flaw is 'procrastination'. His continuous awareness and doubt delays him in performing the needed.
Hamlet is one of the most famous tragedies ever written, and in many respects, it exhibits the features traditionally associated with the tragic genre. In addition to the play ending with the death of Hamlet and a host of others, Hamlet himself is a classic tragic protagonist. As the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet is a figure whose actions matter to an entire kingdom, which means the play’s events reverberate through the entire world of the play. Like other tragic heroes, he displays many admirable traits. Hamlet may have a reputation for moping around Elsinore Castle with a melancholy disposition, but this is because he grieves his beloved father’s untimely death. Despite his sadness, Hamlet is an intelligent young man of great potential, as many other characters recognize. Fortinbras says as much in the final lines of the play: “he was likely, had he been put on [the throne], / To have proved most royal” (V.ii.373–74). Finally, part of the reason Hamlet sets out down the dark path to destruction is that he succumbs to increasing isolation. His isolation amplifies his inwardness, and it also has tragic effects on others. His rejection of Ophelia, combined with his murder of her father, drives her to madness and, presumably, to suicide.
Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw
It is better not to put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Many consequences can arise when one procrastinates. An example of this is found in Shakespeare’s Hamlet through the depiction of the central character. Although Hamlet is characterized as daring, brave, loyal, and intelligent, he is overwhelmed by his own conscience. The tragic hero is defined as one whose downfall is brought about due to their tragic flaw. Hamlet’s inability to act on his father’s murder, his mother’s marriage, and his uncle assuming of the thrown are all evidence of his tragic flaw of procrastination.
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” demands the ghost in (Act I, Scene 5, line 23). The fact that his own uncle could kill his father leaves Hamlet enraged and confused. Although Hamlet knows something is wrong in Denmark, he begins to question everything that the ghost has told him. In this scenario that calls for quick decisive behavior, Hamlet is too busy thinking. An example of this is seen in Act III, when Hamlet has his knife over the head of Claudius, prepared to murder him, and talks himself out of it.
Instead, Hamlet writes a play in which the actors play out the same story the ghost tells Hamlet. His plan is to study Claudius’s reaction to the play to determine his guilt. Even after Hamlet decides his uncle is guilty, Hamlet fails to take immediate action. This would have been a prime opportunity to confront Claudius, but Hamlet seems more interested in patting himself on the back than seeking revenge. Throughout the play Hamlet is deeply hurt by his mother’s decision to remarry his uncle.
As Hamlet so boldly states “Frailty thy name is woman” the reader realizes her actions cause Hamlet to curse women all together (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 146). In the first Act, Claudius and Gertrude question Hamlet’s depression. They push Hamlet to accept his father’s death and move on with his life. While Hamlet should admit his hatred of their marriage, he hides his feeling. While Hamlet is suppressing his feelings, he becomes more enraged at their attempts to calm him. Gertrude is also aware of Hamlet’s feelings for Ophelia and uses this as an excuse for Hamlet’s actions.
Hamlet has ample time to confess the cause of his madness. Unfortunately, Hamlet allows his mother to think he is madly in love rather than tell the truth. After Hamlet delivers his play and sees guilt in his uncle, Gertrude sends for Hamlet. Instead of doing physical damage to his mother, he insist on her confession. If not for Hamlet’s procrastination, her confession could have taken place earlier in the play. This could save him from a great deal of pain and leave his thoughts for other problems. Hamlet’s biggest obstacle in avenging his father’s murder is Claudius being crowned king.
With Claudius being in such a powerful position, Hamlet has to be cautious in his actions. Hamlet not only has to kill his father’s murderer, but the king as well. The church was against the wedding from the start and would side with Hamlet. Instead of Hamlet denouncing his mother’s wedding and the crowning of his uncle, he is silent. During the play, Claudius shouts “Give me some light. Away” and Hamlet was sure of his uncle’s guilt (Act III, Scene 2, Line 152). This was the perfect time for Hamlet to face Claudius.
The king was in a venerable state and could have been easily dethroned. Unfortunately, Hamlet decides to speak to his mother instead, thus putting Hamlet in an emotional state of mind and giving Claudius time to regroup. Although Hamlet seemed to be superior in all other characteristics, his one flaw cost him his life. Inevitably, it cost the lives of many others as well. If Hamlet could have taken immediate action, many deaths could have been avoided. Although Hamlet succeeds in his quest for revenge, his procrastination proves to be his flaw in every event.
Related Essay Topics
What is Hamlet's Tragic Flaw
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