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Hamlet By William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is a renowned playwright and actor, most commonly known as one of the greatest writers. He has written some plays, sonnets, and long poems during his lifetime, most of which have been researched continuously over the years. One such work written by Shakespeare, which intellectuals, scholars, and students examine, is Hamlet, which is based on the prince of Denmark and from the beginning, the protagonist is doomed to suffer. The present paper analyzes Hamlet in light of his tragic flaw, which became the cause of his downfall.

In the first part of the play, Claudius murders his brother, the King of Denmark. Hamlet returns from school to attend the dead King’s funeral and is utterly shocked when he finds out that his mother has become Claudius’s wife so soon. While no one can find out the suspect or the reason behind the King’s death, Hamlet sees a ghost who says he is Hamlet’s father and reveals the identity of the murderer. In Act I, Scene 5, the spirit bids Hamlet to avenge him once Hamlet hears him out. The ghost tells Hamlet to ‘revenge his foul and most unnatural murder’ (Shakespeare). Here, the words foul and unnatural refer to Claudius’s evil plot that revolves around eliminating his brother so that he can rise to power.

It is at this point in the play that the readers get to see Hamlet determined to take revenge on his uncle Claudius, who has taken over the throne in his absence and has also succeeded in rising in power as well as status. While Hamlet has pure intentions, there is little that he does to fulfil his promise. An important aspect of Shakespeare’s plays based on tragedy is that each text has a protagonist who has all the attributes of a good character but still faces a downfall due to a tragic flaw, which makes it all the more unique (Roberts and Zweig). Shakespeare’s Hamlet also suffers from a fatal flaw: his hesitation to act at the right time. While he is aware of his uncle’s intentions, Hamlet is unable to do anything about it and continues to wait for the right moment when he can kill Claudius. In Act III, Hamlet says,

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
”. (Shakespeare)

Hamlet’s hesitation towards revenge shows that he does not have the strength or the ability to do the right thing at the right moment. Until the end of the play, Hamlet continues to debate and stalls the act. It is true that a rational being would not immediately believe in the world of spirits, and one such as Hamlet is unsure about whether it is his father’s ghost or not. However, when the ghost ensures Hamlet that he is Hamlet’s father, the protagonist is compelled to take action. And this can be seen from the way, throughout the play, Hamlet finds difficulty in fulfilling his plan. Hamlet continues to ascertain whether the ghost is his father and not some foul spirit while, at the same time, he also keeps an eye on his uncle to get enough evidence to show that Claudius has an evil nature.

From the above discussion, it is evident that Hamlet’s hamartia was his indecisiveness. He thinks over the whole matter too much and is unable to do anything, which ultimately leads him and many others to their deaths. Shakespeare’s play is unique as it highlights Hamlet’s sufferings even though he knows what to do after being told about the suspect behind the King’s death. Hamlet is not capable of carrying out the plan to avenge his father.

Works Cited

Roberts, E. V., and R. Zweig. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Pearson College Division, 2014,

Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet. The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” Ed. David Bevington. Updated, vol. 4, 1997, pp. 1060–1116.



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