Hamlet: a tragic hero?

Posted by ktrigilio on May 30, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Find evidence (two or more quotes) to support each of the following viewpoints.  Decide which interpretation you favor most. Then write your own view of Hamlet as a tragic hero.

Tragicflaw? The hero’s downfall is caused by a ‘tragic flaw’ or blemish in the character. Hamlet’s weakness may be that he ‘thinks too much’ and cannot makeup his mind. The resulting inaction leads to his death. But Hamlet’s ‘tragic flaw’ may be some other feature in his character responsible for his downfall.

A tragedy of fate? The hero has no control over his destiny. His fate is predetermined. As Hamlet says, ‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends…’

A tragedy of chance? Accident and bad luck determine the fate of the hero.The unplanned chance encounter with the pirate ship, for example, brings Hamlet back to Denmark. Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius. The tragic hero is the victim of random uncertainty.

Irreconcilable opposites?  The hero’s character comprises irreconcilable sets of forces. Hamlet’s mind and feelings are filled with such tensions: reason battles with passion; love is contrasted with lust; action is inhibited by thought. Hamlet struggles with a wish to die and an urge to live. Hamlet can be read as the tragedy of a man trapped between such contraries.


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