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To what extent do you think Hamlet can be seen as a tragic hero in a revenge tragedy?

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Introduction

Hamlet's inability to move into action creates a tragic flaw typical of a tragic hero in a revenge tragedy. Hamlet's overwhelming sense of self-disgust makes it impossible for him to fulfill the role of a typical tragic hero. To what extent do you think Hamlet can be seen as a tragic hero in a revenge tragedy? On hearing about the foul nature of his father's death from his ghost, Hamlet feels obliged to avenge his father as quickly as possible. Though it is clear that Hamlet harbours deep resentment towards the supposed killer, his uncle Claudius, and is eventually certain of his mission, Hamlet is seen to consistently delay in completing his task for various reasons. In turn, the audience can begin to shape their views on whether or not Hamlet fits the criteria for a tragic hero. His inability to act could be seen as a tragic flaw typical of a tragic hero; or on the other hand, his hesitation in exacting revenge could be down to an overwhelming sense of self-disgust, which in turn could mean it is impossible for him to fulfill the role of a tragic hero. ...read more.

Middle

Crucial to note is Hamlet's decision to refrain from telling his friends what has happened. This could be seen as being down to his accepting of the tragic hero role - he feels he has to go it alone, so to speak, and doesn't need or want anyone else's help; but other audiences could interpret it as meaning Hamlet is immediately discarding the importance of the task as he would surely inform Horatio and Marcellus of it if he was concerned about it. However the former of these appears more likely as Hamlet hints at the task and his father's death. He tells the pair 'There's never a villain dwelling in all Denmark / But he's an arrant knave', obviously meaning Claudius, before suddenly shutting up shop and suggesting they should part ways. Then when Horatio reassures Hamlet 'There's no offence my lord' when Hamlet apologises for his strange behaviour, Hamlet's mind instantly turns back to the task. He makes it quite clear 'there is [offence], Horatio, / And much offence too' before returning to his bizarre state once more and making Horatio and Marcellus swear upon his sword that they will never speak of what they have seen, which, as the audience knows, is nothing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Between finding out the news from the Ghost and the close of the scene, Hamlet engages in one soliloquy and one mini-speech, and in neither does he outline any plans of how exactly he is going to take his revenge. Some would see the fact that Hamlet has recognized himself as the tragic hero by the end of the scene as progress; others would argue it has taken him far too long to accept and would criticise his contemplative nature and lack of planning. Considering everything at a glance it would appear that one could argue more strongly that Hamlet has accepted his role as a tragic hero given his tragic flaw of lulling over taking action than to argue that it is impossible for him to fulfill the role of a typical tragic hero. By the end of Act 1 he should have plans in place for how to carry out his revenge, but he has only just concluded the stage of accepting the burden. This inability to act is evidence of his tragic flaw, and coupled with his acknowledgement of the fact that he himself has to be the one to carry out the deed, it becomes apparent that Hamlet can be seen as a typical tragic hero. ...read more.

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