The Tragedy of Hamlet
The Tragedy of Hamlet
Arguably the best piece of writing ever done by William Shakespeare, Hamlet the is the classic example of a tragedy. In all tragedies the hero suffers, and usually dies at the end. Othello stabs himself, Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, Brutis falls on his sword, and like them Hamlet dies by getting cut with a poison tipped sword. But that is not all that is needed to consider a play a tragedy, and sometimes a hero doesn’t even need to die.
Not every play in which a Hero dies is considered a tragedy. There are more elements needed to label a play one. Probably the most important element is an amount of free will. In every tragedy, the characters must displays some. If every action is controlled by a hero’s destiny, then the hero’s death can’t be avoided, and in a tragedy the sad part is that it could. Hamlet’s death could have been avoided many times. Hamlet had many opportunities to kill Claudius, but did not take advantage of them. He also had the option of making his claim public, but instead he chose not too. A tragic hero doesn’t need to be good. For example, MacBeth was evil, yet he was a tragic hero, because he had free will. He also had only one flaw, and that was pride. He had many good traits such as bravery, but his one bad trait made him evil. Also a tragic hero doesn’t have to die. While in all Shakespearean tragedies, the hero dies, in others he may live but suffer “Moral Destruction”.
In Oedipus Rex, the proud yet morally blind king plucks out his eyes, and has to spend his remaining days as a wandering, sightless beggar, guided at every painful step by his daughter, Antigone. A misconception about tragedies is that nothing good comes out of them, but it is actually the opposite. In Romeo and Juliet, although both die, they end the feud between the Capulets and the Montegues. Also, Romeo and Juliet can be together in heaven. In Hamlet, although Hamlet dies, it is almost for the best. How could he have any pleasure during the rest of his life, with his parents and Ophelia dead. Also, although Hamlet dies, he is able to kill Claudius and get rid of the evil ruling the throne.
Every tragic play must have a tragic hero. The tragic hero must possess many good traits, as well as one flaw, which eventually leads to his downfall. A tragic hero must be brave and noble. In Othello, Othello had one fatal flaw, he was too great. Othello was too brave, too noble, and especially too proud to allow himself to be led back to Venice in chains. A tragic hero must not back down from his position. He also has to have free will, in order to stand up for what he believes in. Finally, the audience must have some sympathy for the tragic hero. In MacBeth, although MacBeth commits many murders, one almost feels sorry for him and his fate.
Hamlet is the perfect example of the tragic hero. Hamlet has all the good traits needed to be a tragic hero. He is brave and daring. One example of this is that when he went to England, he was taking a big risk. If his plan didn’t work, he would have been executed He also is also loyal. His loyalty to his father, was the reason he was so angry at Claudius and his Mother. Another trait was that he was intelligent. He was able to think up the idea of faking insanity, in order to get more information about Claudius. But Hamlet like all other tragic hero’s had a flaw. He couldn’t get around to doing anything, because he couldn’t move on. He was a full grown adult, yet he still attended school in England, because he couldn’t move on. Also, it took him a long time to stop grieving about his father, because he didn’t want to move past that part of his life. And after he finally did, Hamlet couldn’t get around to killing Claudius. He kept pretending he was insane even after he was sure that Claudius killed his father. The final example of Hamlet’s inability to get around to do anything was that he was dating Ophelia for a long time, but never got around to marrying her. The audience was able to feel sympathy for Hamlet too. He had just lost his father, and his mother remarried so quickly that according to him they could have used the leftover food from the funeral in the wedding reception. Also, the audience could feel that Hamlet loved his parents and this sudden change was hurting him.
In any tragedy there is a tragic hero, and he must possess certain characteristics in order to be one. He must have many good traits such as loyalty and bravery, but one bad one such as pride. Also the audience must have sympathy for the hero. A tragic hero also must have free will or his fate would be decided for him, and his death could be avoided. Finally, the audience must have sympathy for the tragic hero, or it wouldn’t seem so tragic. Hamlet is a perfect example of a tragic hero. He was brave, loyal, and intelligent, but he couldn’t move on past one thing, which led to his death. He had a choice of how he would deal with Claudius, and like other tragic hero’s made a decision. Also, the audience was able to feel sympathy for the position Hamlet was in. These attributes made Hamlet the perfect example of a tragic hero.