Hamlet: The Aristotelian Tragic Hero

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Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, centers around Hamlet’s contemplation of killing his uncle in order to avenge his father’s death. His decisions and values determine his fate. However, Hamlet’s intended action to avenge his father’s death is continuously postponed due to his moral dilemma. However, this moral dilemma causes him to make the decisions he does, and therefore, demonstrates the theme of his uncertainty versus his faith. Not only does faith stop him from taking alternative routes to achieve his goal, but his uncertainty causes him to either delay his revenge or make the wrong decisions. In fact, the decisions he makes also define him to be the epitome of the Aristotelian tragic hero. Thus, Shakespeare pairs the idea…show more content…
This archetype is shown through Hamlet’s values and actions. One aspect of a tragic hero is that the character must be flawed in his judgment. For example, upon listening to Claudius’ confession of to God, Hamlet confirms that Claudius is his father’s murderer. However, he still delays in killing him. Once more, Hamlet makes the wrong choice, believing that this is not the right time to kill Claudius. To further elaborate, Hamlet, explains, “Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge” (Hamlet 3.3.79). Hamlet believes that he will not be doing his father justice if he kills Claudius after he is forgiven of his sins. Hamlet continues, “To take him in the purging of his soul / When he is fit and season 'd for his passage?... / Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent” (Ham.3.3.85–88). By not taking advantage of the opportunity, Hamlet once again delays in fulfilling his vow to his father. Although, he is given a perfect opportunity to kill Claudius, his tendency to overthink often causes him to procrastinate in fulfilling his responsibility, therefore, becoming his major flaw. Another element of the Aristotelian tragic hero is the reversal of fate, or rather a change for the worse. He does possess the potential to claim the throne, restore order in the kingdom, and to keep his family in power of the crown. However, these outcomes are only possible if he can execute his plan with swiftness. Instead, Hamlet…show more content…
However, Hamlet’s goes through a journey of different feelings towards this motivation. Hamlet is initially ardent to kill Claudius, driven by his anger and hate towards him. For example, Hamlet describes his hate for Claudius when he exclaims, “O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!...At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark (1.5.107–110). His description of Claudius as the villain shows that Hamlet seeks to commit justice for the corruption that Claudius has brought about. Hamlet continues, “So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word” (1.5.111). From the very beginning, Hamlet describes it as his responsibility. Although initially eager to carry out this responsibility, Hamlet becomes hesitant to fulfill his vow as the story progresses. In fact, he contemplates the act of revenge as he continues to observe the corruption around him. Although he wants to avenge his father’s death, he also does not see the act of killing as moral. As a result, his revenge no longer becomes a desire, but rather a burden that continues to stay with him until he is relieved of it at death. To relieve himself of his frustration. However, Hamlet is reminded several times to carry out his duty. For example, after seeing Prince Fortinbras’ army conquer land in Poland, he expresses, “When honour 's at the stake. That have a father kill 'd, a mother stain 'd, / Excitements of my reason and my blood,/ ...My thoughts be

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