Hamlet: Tragic Hero

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Webster’s dictionary defines tragedy as, “a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror.” A tragic hero, therefore, is the character who experiences such a conflict and suffers catastrophically as a result of his choices and related actions. The character of Hamlet, therefore, is a clear representation of Shakespeare’s tragic hero. As the play’s tragic hero, Hamlet exhibits a combination of good and bad traits. A complex character, he displays a variety of characteristics throughout the play’s development. When he is first introduced in Act I- Scene 2, one sees Hamlet as a sensitive young prince who is mourning the death of his father, the King. In addition, his mother’s immediate marriage to his uncle has left him in even greater despair. Mixed in with this immense sense of grief, are obvious feelings of anger and frustration. The combination of these emotions leaves one feeling sympathetic to Hamlet; he becomes a very “human” character. One sees from the very beginning that he is a very complex and conflicted man, and that his tragedy has already begun. Hamlet is considered to be a tragic hero because he has a tragic flaw, that in the end, is the cause of his downfall. As defined by Aristotle, a tragic play has a beginning, middle, and end; unity of time and place; a tragic hero; and the concept of catharsis. One of the main reasons this play is considered a tragic play is because the main character is a tragic hero. Hamlet's tragic flaw is he spends too much time thinking and not enough time acting. Hamlet dwells too much on whether or not to act on something, and by the time he decides to act, it is too late. When Hamlet finally decides to kill Claudius, he sees him praying and decides to wait longer. The

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