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Free Essays – The Tragic Flaw of Hamlet Hamlet essays

Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw Hamlet’s famous soliloquy (Hamlet, act III, scene 1) shows his depth and ability in thinking, and shows Shakespeare’s ability to manipulate language. Throughout the play, Hamlet stops to think before acting on anything. The more he thinks, the less he does. Therefore, thinking led him to doubt, which led to inaction. “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” Hamlet’s “tragic flaw” is his inability to act on impulse. Stopping to think before acting cost Hamlet numerous opportunities to get revenge. He ironically passed up his most obvious opportunity when Claudius was praying in the church. He wanted to wait until Claudius was doing something that had “no relish of salvation in ‘t.” We are like Hamlet, at times. the more we think of doing something, the more we find wrong with it. Hamlet decided to stay with his troubles in life rather than commit suicide and “fly to others” he knew nothing of. Sometimes, we are like that – staying with what we are familiar with rather than making changes. we are afraid to think about a decision we’ve made because we may come to regret it later or change our minds. Sometimes when we think about something a long time, it almost seems like we’ve done it, so then we don’t. Hamlet was different; the longer he brewed over his father’s murder, the angrier and more impassioned toward revenge he became. On his journey home to Denmark, he thought about revenge and planned to kill Claudius. Recognizing he was the victim of a pre-planned duel, Hamlet let his anger overcome him. Hamlet killed Claudius in an impulsive act, thus overcoming his own “tragic flaw.” Hamlet, Shakespeare, act III, scene 1.

Comparing Gertrude and Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Gertrude and Ophelia of Hamlet

Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, is in some ways the epicentre around which Hamlet’s emotions revolve. Her role is difficult to determine; she can be seen, like Desdemona, as the passive victim of male ambition and strife, or she can be placed amongst the likes of Lady Macbeth as privy to her husband’s misdeeds, and as sharing his guilt to an equal, if not greater extent. Her attitude to Ophelia seems positive (‘Scattering flowers. Sweets to the sweet. Farewell. I hop’d thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife’; V.1.236). Her most vital scene is III.4, in which Hamlet attempts to extract a confession from her, and to persuade her to renounce Claudius. Modern productions regularly home in on the Freudian potential by locating this key encounter between mother and son in the former’s bedroom. It takes place in her closet.

At times it seems that Gertrude does not know or pretends not to know why Hamlet is so angry with her and with Claudius (‘What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue/ In noise so rude against me?’). At other times she seems to know exactly what is troubling him (‘His father’s death and our o’er-hasty marriage’, II.2.57). But Hamlet, too, does not come clean directly. He does not confront her with the murder, but rather sets out ‘to wring her heart’ (III.4.35), and plays upon her emotions rather than on her reason. Instead, he shows her two pictures, and compares at great length his father with his uncle (55 ff.). In this long speech, the son touches on many matters so delicate that critics can be forgiven for detecting more than a whiff oedipal sentiment in Hamlet himself. He plays on his mother’s sense of shame, even bringing her eroticism or lack of it into play, and culminating in a vision of his mother making love in a bed stained with semen – not a pretty sight:

You cannot call it love; for at your age

The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble,

And waits upon the judgment, and what judgment

Would step from this to this? (68 ff.)

[…] O shame, where is thy blush? (81)

[…] Nay, but to live

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,

Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love

Over the nasty sty! (91 ff.)

Nowhere is Hamlet’s morbid preoccupation with the workings of the body more obvious.

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