Delusions In Hamlet

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The idea of the “tragic hero” captivates audiences by shocking them with a suspenseful and disheartening ending, providing contrast to the Cinderella, feel-good stories that are the norm. Aristotle was the first to define the tragic hero, believing that “a good tragedy must evoke feelings of fear and pity”(citation). Sheakespeare later adopted this pattern throughout many of his productions including Hamlet, where Prince Hamlet falls to his demise from his overpowering lust for revenge. While there are many tragic flaws a character may possess, delusion is the most detrimental to the character. Delusion is defined as, “the act or instance of deluding” (“Delusion,” 2023, n.p.). In the Shakespearean play, Hamlet, there are various characters …show more content…

It begins as Hamlet disowns and rejects their love, only to be continued as Hamlet murders her father, Polonius. Throughout the course of these actions Ophelia begins to lose all sense of herself and become mad. Her delusion is demonstrated specifically in act four, scene five where Ophellia asks to speak to the Queen, “I will not speak with her.” The gentleman continued the conversation, “ She is importunate, indeed distract; Her mood will need to be pitied.” (IV, v, 1-3). Here it is made clear that Ophelia has been declared mad by the gentleman. Thus making it known that her madness has gotten to the point where it is obvious to others around her. As a result of the hardships Ophelia has been put through, readers can see the beginning of her downfall as she was once a naive young woman and is now clearly delusional, qualifying her character as a tragic …show more content…

The innocent Ophelia, unfortunately, fills this mold of the tragic hero. While it has been demonstrated that Ophellia has certainly gone mad, readers later come to see the truly detrimental effect it has on her life. Readers experience her demise along with the other characters as Gerturde unexpectedly announces, “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, So fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes… Clambering to hand, an envious sliver broke; When down her weedy trophies and herself fell in in the weeping brook… As one incapable of her own distress… To muddy death” (IV, vii, 164-185). Here readers see that truly Ophelia’ madness has quite literally driven her to her death. While it is unknown if her death was an accident or suicide, it is clear to see that if it were not for her delusion, she would have had the ability to be cautious and self aware, thus preventing her drowning. The culminating effects of her father dying and Hamlet’s abandonment have driven Ophelia not only to a delusional state, but to her death. While there are many character’s capable of being classified as a tragic hero, Ophelia is the second greatest, opposed to Hamlet, because her downfall was not at the hands of her own. She was subject to rejection and death without justification. Compared to the other characters who lust for power or vengeance overtook them,

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