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To What Extent Is Hamlet, The Tragic Hero Of The Play, Responsible For His Own Downfall?

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Introduction

To What Extent Is Hamlet, The Tragic Hero Of The Play, Responsible For His Own Downfall? In Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', the eponymous character is the tragic hero, and therefore as this tragic hero in a revenge tragedy must have a tragic flaw. However within the context of the play, in its events and circumstances, many other external factors play a pivotal role in his downfall. Ultimately though as this tragic hero, he becomes a man torn between the these internal and external forces, however in relation to his downfall, it is his flaws in reaction to these external factors which becomes his downfall. As a play moulded by the revenge tragedy genre, the tragic hero, Hamlet, must have a flaw that proves his downfall. Many have argued that Hamlet was responsible for his own downfall, and his fatal flaw was that he thinks too much. Hamlet's character is that of a conscientious man with a high intellect. Because of this, the nature of his reasoning in a situation he finds himself in as the avenger of his fathers murder, which itself is an external factor, show how his extensive reasoning becomes his fatal flaw. For example, when discussing his mothers and Claudius' relationship and his distaste for it, he explains that 'For I must hold my tongue'. ...read more.

Middle

Hamlet himself even acknowledges the role that fate and destiny play in the direction in his actions when he explains that 'there's a divinity that shapes our end'. Here Hamlet shows although he has freedom in his actions as the tragic hero, as free will is a pivotal element of a revenge tragedy, there is some divine force such as God guiding the ends of his actions. A.C Bradley explains this role that fate plays as 'the powerlessness of man and of the omnipotence --perhaps the caprice-- of, fortune or fate, which no tale of private life can possibly rival' .Therefore this again emphasizes that although Hamlet's internal flaws play a role in his downfall, there is an element which he cannot control, and this interaction between these two forces prove the source of his downfall. In contrast to this role that external forces play, many persist in arguing that it is solely Hamlet to blame for his own downfall, and use one of his fatal flaws as the reasoning for this assertion. His tendency to procrastinate and not showing enough masculinity in his actions is to many an internal flaw that exacerbates the revenge and ultimately adds to his downfall. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another striking example of this instance of a tragedy of chance is within Act 4 during the voyage to England after Hamlet discovers that he was on his way to be murdered, and joins a pirate ship to be shipped back to Denmark to await his fate. This example if any shows how an external factor lead to the downfall of Hamlet, as he came back to develop the plot between himself and Claudius even more, as he could of stayed in England which would have diffused the situation. This interpretation of Hamlet as a tragedy of chance reiterates the idea that the internal flaws and external forces interact with one another and the manner in which Hamlet's flaws react to these forces are what causes his downfall. Within 'Hamlet', Shakespeare creates a character who has been torn between his internal flaws and external forces, both of which he has no control over, and because of these two forces which entwine to add to his downfall, it cannot be concluded that Hamlet was completely to blame for his own downfall. His downfall was however due to the tragic relationship between these two forces and his inability to deal with is situation in light of these forces, which ultimately culminated in a noble man thrown into the depths of revenge which finished with his own death. ...read more.

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