Hamlet’s Flaw Essay
Tragic flaw can be described as a literary device and a trait or feature in a leading protagonist’s character that leads to his/her downfall. Basically this trait can be lack of judgment, self-knowledge and mostly pride (hubris).Hamlet is one of the most discussed and written tragedies in man’s history. It is a tragedy because its key protagonist has a tragic flaw leading to his downfall. Thus Hamlet’s tragic flow does not allow him to act on impulse for occasions that need fast, decisive behavior and the fact that he reacts impulsively for things that need more consideration than he gives. Hamlet thus talks of the tragic flaw of his father that finally led to his death. Nevertheless, it equally applies well to his own life:
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty,
(Since nature cannot choose his origin),
By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking own the pales and forts of reason,
Their virtues else, be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of evil
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal. (1.4.23-38).
From the above excerpt it is clear that Hamlet is speaking of one flaw that is in specific men from the time of their birth, and the reality that one flaw is his “particular fault”. It is this “fault” that Hamlet claims will make the man corrupt. This also seems to be Shakespeare’s excuse as to why Hamlet will not impulsively act. Shakespeare in his writing claims, “As, in their birth, wherein they are not guilty/ (since nature cannot choose his origin)” (1.4.26) as if he is hinting to the audience the tragic flaw that Hamlet has. In addition, Hamlet also provides a reason for his flaw and even though he talks about the tragic flaw that his father has, he claims “particular men” (1.4.23) and therefore he is not refuting the claim that his character lacks a tragic flaw. In this context Hamlet is giving an excuse for any likely flaws that may come up within the course of the play. Thus Shakespeare demonstrates that Hamlet maintains his capacity to think in a lucid and an in depth manner via his monologue (3.1.56-89).Hamlet before acting on anything, pauses to think. For instance in the church when he has the chance to kill Claudius as he is praying. Nevertheless, Hamlet pauses to think before he does anything. Thus, “There is no clear evidence of wrong doing until Claudius confesses his sins to God, his nephew, and the theater at large”(Scott-Hopkins 1).This kind of reasoning makes him doubt hence leading him to inaction. Hamlet takes the time to reason and therefore thinks himself out of any action. In addition, Hamlet talks of his tragic flaw, inability to act;
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch a moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.”(3.1.83-88)
Thus Hamlet is aware of his own flaw and is also conscious of how its effect on his relationship with Ophelia as well. The other instance of Hamlet’s acting on impulse is found in act 3, 2 where he tries to prove that Claudius killed his father. Hamlet is not able to act on the words of the ghost alone. Thus it would be easier if Hamlet would not have alerted Claudius to the fact that he is aware of his father’s murderer.
Hamlet merely acts without reasonable thought in several other scenes all through the entire play. Thus, in Act 1, 4, Hamlet further threatens Marcellus and Horatio to allow him to go so that he can go after the ghost. He lacks reasonable thought regarding it and simply goes after the coast even with Horatio’s urging him to stop it. The other instance that shows irrational acts of Hamlet is in Act 3.4 while he is in the chambers of the Queen .He also stabs Polonius via the arras without knowing who it is. Immediately he hears somebody shout “What, ho! Help!”(3.4.22).At that moment Hamlet takes out his sword and screams “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!”(3.4.23-24).
Hence stabs via killing of Polonius by the arras. This action execute without thought is the one that finally seals the fate of Hamlet.
William, Shakespeare. Hamlet. New York: Turtlebooks , 1992.