Hamlet Was Not Shakespeare’S First Tragedy, Nor Would It

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Hamlet was not Shakespeare’s first tragedy, nor would it be his last, but it is certainly one of his most venerated for one reason in particular: Hamlet himself, the tragic hero. Not even Aristotle could have predicted that a character as complex and intricate as Hamlet would ever come into writing, although he did lay the foundation for which Hamlet could be built upon. As with most tragic heroes, where Hamlet begins in the play gives tremendous magnitude to where he eventually ends. He begins as a prince, a part of the royal family, high in social ranking. However, he is not your typical prince; he has not triumphantly returned from battle or sitting comfortably on his throne. Rather, due to the nature of “in medias res” and the…show more content…
Hamlet could also be considered a relatable character; it would be easy to understand that depression may be an unfortunate side effect of one whose father has died and whose mother has married his uncle. Shakespeare then introduces a unique halt to the tragic hero’s character development, through what Hamlet himself describes as an “antic disposition.” Hamlet explains in 1.5 that he will feign madness in order to deceive his family and expose King Claudius for murdering the King Hamlet. Prince Hamlet makes sure to assert the fact that he is only pretending to be mad, telling Gertrude “I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft” (Shakespeare 3.4.187–88). However, as the play progresses, one suspects that Hamlet is becoming mad throughout the course of the play, that his “play-acting” has become reality, and that it has serious consequences for many of the other characters involved. He blatantly offends Ophelia and his mother with no remorse, and uses unnecessary violence when he should have acted sooner. Hamlet’s extreme lack of empathy evokes a feeling of fear in the audience that his seemingly innocent games may become deathly. Hamlet’s reluctance to act and his obsession with death are precisely what leads to his downfall, and can
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