Hamlet As An Aristotelian Tragedy Essay

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According to the Aristotelian view of tragedy, a tragic hero must fall through his or her own error. This is typically called the "tragic flaw", and can be applied to any characteristic that causes the downfall the hero. Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark can be seen as an Aristotelian tragedy and Hamlet as it's tragic hero. Hamlet's flaw, which in accordance with Aristotle's principles of tragedy causes his demise, is his inability to act. This defect of Hamlet's character is displayed throughout the play.

In the opening scenes of the play, the Ghost of old Hamlet reveals the truth about his death to his son, and tells Hamlet to avenge the murder. Hamlet's first response is one that sounds of speedy action, saying
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Further evidence of Hamlet's tragic flaw can be found in act III, scene 3. At this point, Hamlet is sure of Claudius' guilt, and has even declared that "Now could I drink hot blood and do such bitter business as the day Would quake to look on." (p. 99 lines 406-408) He comes to find King Claudius alone, and recognizes it as an opportunity to act, but almost immediately talks himself out of action on the bases that the King is praying, and will therefore go to heaven. He decides yet again to delay avenging his father's murder, this time until he can kill the King while he is in a vile condition, such as "When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage; Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed." (p. 103 lines 89-90) Hamlet has failed to act for so long that the Ghost soon comes back to remind him of his duty.

In the end, we see that Hamlet's inability to act indeed causes his fall, and that his failure costs him not only his life, but also his mother's. In the final scene, Hamlet duels with Laertes, who has conspired with the King to kill Hamlet. In the King's attempt to kill Hamlet, he accidentally poisons the Queen. Laertes delivers the fatal wound to Hamlet with a sword dipped in a deadly poison and it is only with his final life breath that Hamlet finally kills the King. This does not mean that Hamlet has finally acted-he has only reacted to what is happening to him. If Hamlet had initially carried out his
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