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Obsession, Ambition, and Betrayal - The Primary Causes behind the Downfall of Several Tragic Characters within William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Gakhal 1 Sunny Gakhal Ms. Clemens ENG4U0-B 21 December 2007 Obsession, Ambition, and Betrayal - The Primary Causes behind the Downfall of Several Tragic Characters within William Shakespeare's Hamlet Hamlet is one of the most internationally acclaimed and renowned pieces of tragic literature. Even as of today, the play is extensively studied and continues to fascinate its readers. The complexity and meaningfulness of the literature, the overall plot, and the personalities of its multiple characters, continues to fascinate the minds of its readers, critics and scholars alike. In a brief synopsis, Hamlet is a play about an intellective, virtuous, and a clever prince, and his internal/external struggle in the path to honoring the ghost of his late father, Hamlet Sr., by avenging his murderer: the treacherous, corrupt, and manipulative Claudius (brother to Hamlet Sr.), who is the current king of Denmark and an uncle and stepfather to Hamlet. In addition to the thrilling plot, however, is the signification Shakespeare applies upon the theme of karma. In the end of the play, the majority of the primary characters, including the protagonist, Hamlet, die. It can be easily established that the deaths of these tragic characters were ultimately the outcomes of their acts and personalities within the play. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, obsession, ambition, and betrayal, decide the unfortunate fate of several tragic characters. One of Hamlet's greatest fatal flaws was not only the obsession to avenge his father's murder, but the obsession with the idea of executing the act of vengeance at the Gakhal 2 perfect moment (specifically, when Claudius would be caught sinning). ...read more.


Laertes was convinced to partake in a fencing duel where he'd be given a poisoned sword to slash Hamlet, thus poisoning him to death. Although he succeeds in poisoning Hamlet, however, due to utter confusion caused by a turn of events, the oblivious Hamlet ends up with the poisoned sword himself and similarly, slashing Laertes as well. Therefore, ultimately, Laertes obsession with the idea of hastily avenging his father and sister's murderer, obliged him to commit a misdeed, that would shortly after comeback and get Laertes himself as well. Ambition was another characteristic that led to the unfortunate fates of several characters. One of them was Polonius, a senior adviser to King Claudius and father to Ophelia and Laertes. Polonius's ambition to serve Claudius to his fullest potential by providing the wisest of insight and opinion led to his downfall. In order to provide his insight and opinions, Polonius adopted many crooked and indirect methods of obtaining information he needed. For example, he used his daughter Ophelia as an instrument to Gakhal 5 discover the cause of Hamlet's madness and even went as far as spying himself. Polonius's cunning and deceptive personality can be recognized when he quotes: POLONIUS. See you now, Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth. And thus do we of wisdom and of reach, With windlasses and with assays of bias, By indirections find directions out. (II. i. 61-65) Polonius considers serving the king his top priority because ultimately it would increase his social rank further within the Danish society. ...read more.


In addition to this, the deceitful intrigues surrounding her, combined with the sudden death of her father, Ophelia eventually can't bear the pain and throws herself into a state of madness. Unfortunately however, Ophelia had no intention in betraying Hamlet's trust, but it can be arguably established that one cause behind her insanity was the despicable painting Hamlet held in his mind towards her character. The primary characters within the play, including the protagonist, have tragic fates due to their acts (throughout the play) and personalities. Specifically, however, the root causes behind the unfortunate fate of the several tragic characters was due to their obsessive behaviors, ambitions, and betrayal. The obsession of Hamlet and Laertes in avenging the murders of their father's, cause them to commit misdeeds which eventually lead to the downfall of the two characters. Similarly, ambitions were another cause Gakhal 8 behind the unfortunate fates of several characters. For example, Claudius's ambitious and ruthless pursuit of power, forces him to commit the sinful act of murder. However, Claudius is ultimately punished, as he destroyed the lives of many around him and for what goes around, comes around. In addition to these, the act of betrayal between characters, in some cases, who were closely bonded at one point, was another reason for the downfall of several characters. For example, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, whom were supposed to be perceived as long-term companions of Hamlet, in fact, due to their ambition of increasing their social rank, continuously, betray the friendship of Hamlet in order to serve Claudius. Ultimately, obsession, ambition, and betrayal, were the primary causes for the tragic downfalls of several characters within William Shakespeare's, Hamlet. ...read more.

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