Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Tragedy.

Extracts from this essay...


Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Tragedy Hamlet, the story of a young prince who seeks to revenge his father's death by killing his uncle, Claudius, is one of the most favorite and complex Shakespearean tragedies. Hamlet is unsettled by Claudius taking over the throne and his mother's hasty remarriage but does nothing except verbalize this discontent. Encountering the ghost of his dead father, who tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius, gives reason to Hamlet to seek revenge; however, Hamlet continually postpones his actions and, this being his tragic flaw, leads to his downfall. Shakespeare's Hamlet is the classic example of a tragedy as defined by A.C. Bradley. Bradley says that a Shakespearean tragedy is the story of a hero who encounters significant suffering. The hero, a man of high status and an "exceptional being" who inspires "fear or calamity" in others, often compares himself or his situation to happier times and struggles with an internal dilemma. The tragic hero brings about his own downfall through his actions, or his tragic flaw, and his destruction affects those around him.


As the ghost comes Hamlet exclaims, Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell Be they intents wicked or charitable, Thou com'st in such a questionable shape (I.iv.40-44) Hamlet is unsure about the identity of the ghost since he cannot know what is beyond death. He says to Hamlet that "the serpent that did sting thy father's life/ Now wears his crown." Claudius has indeed killed him Hamlet's father, thereby confirming Hamlet's suspicions, and demands revenge. Hamlet's internal dilemma, arising from being forced into a role of avenging his father's death, must be solved before Hamlet will be able to take action. His inner turmoil is obvious as he proclaims himself "a rogue and peasant slave" who could not "force his soul so to his own conceit." He is unable to carry out revenge. Hamlet's famous soliloquy in Act III also confirms his internal dilemma as he ponders suicide to end his pain. He questions himself asking "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer" or to end life by suicide.


This certainly is the first apparent step which leads to Hamlet's downfall. Hamlet continues to reflect upon his inaction in Act IV where he realizes that "thinking too precisely on th' event" is "one part wisdom and ever tree parts coward." Hamlet sees himself as a coward for not killing Claudius in Act III. Hamlet, however, by a turn of fate, returns to Denmark, where Claudius concocts a final plan to get rid of Hamlet. Hamlet's death is spurred by a duel, between himself and Laertes, where the sword is poisoned. All characters end up dead as the deceit ends. Hamlet has reached his end because of his tragic flaw. Hamlet's irresolution destroys him and he was unable to avenge his father's death. The tragedy of Hamlet shows how the inability to act and "thinking to precisely on th' event" can be detrimental to some. Hamlet remains an enigmatic character throughout Hamlet in spite of the reader's attempts to understand his multidimensional complexion. In this way, Shakespeare makes yet another statement about human condition in this tragic tale of revenge.

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • Over 150,000 essays available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Over 180,000 student essays
  • Every subject and level covered
  • Thousands of essays marked by teachers
  • Over 180,000 essays
    written by students
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to write
    your own great essays

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.