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A tragic hero is characterized as an extraordinary or idealistic character who is bound for hardships and downfall. These heroes are frequently exhibited as honorable but damaged characters who are responsible for their own destruction, frequently due to their flaws and judgement errors. In his tragedy, Hamlet, Shakespeare showcases the journey of a well loved Danish prince, Hamlet. Prince Hamlet is a faithful and loyal character who is faced with a revelation that forces him to embark on a journey to murder the current king of Denmark. Shakespeare portrays Hamlet as a tragic hero, who although loved and supported by the people of Denmark, writes his own death due to his flaws of emotional instability and indecision in performing actions.
Hamlet is born into nobility and well liked by the people of Denmark. After Claudius became the king following King Hamlet’s death and his hasty marriage to Gertrude, he had to calm the people at his coronation by declaring prince Hamlet “the most immediate to [the] throne” . As the direct descendant to the throne, Hamlet embodies the qualities of the dead King Hamlet. Righteous and just, King Hamlet was the definition of a quintessential king and knowing that, people wanted the future king to be just as great. Therefore, it was necessary for Claudius to reassure the people that Hamlet will be the next king. Even when Hamlet kills Polonius, Claudius could not inflict harsh punishment on Hamlet because “he’s loved of the distracted multitude” . Knowing that, Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England as the people would only judge the punishment that Hamlet would have been given and not the crime he had committed. Hamlet is popular and the citizens of Denmark bear such great love for him that watching him being severely punished would upset them. Claudius knows that to secure his place on the throne, he needs the support of people which comes from Hamlet.
During his encounter with the ghost of his dead father, Hamlet learns that his uncle murdered his father, and this disclosure sets him on a course of emotional distress. As a part of his plan to avenge his father’s murder, Hamlet plans to fake his insanity. When Hamlet meets with Ophelia, he professes his undying devotion to her. However, in the next moment, Ophelia rejects him by returning the love letters he had wrote for her. Unable to handle this rejection of his feelings, Hamlet rescinds what he told her moments before by telling her that he “did love [her] once” and that she had fell for his lies. Contradictory statements like these coupled with Hamlet’s strange behavior make Claudius and Polonius further question his sanity because both of them had believed that Hamlet was truly in love with Ophelia and that his behavior was a result of her ignoring him. Hamlet is unable to control his emotions and act in a dignified manner as he “has become a tormented soul struggling to survive in a world that has lost its meaning for him” (Lidz). His father is dead and his family has been destroyed as he does not agree with his mother’s choices. Moreover, as time progresses, Hamlet finds it very difficult to manage his emotions and act on them. When Hamlet meets with his mother in her chamber, he is agitated because his mother chose Claudius over King Hamlet, despite knowing that King Hamlet represented everything a good king should be. Hamlet is under tremendous stress and “whether Hamlet is clinically mad or mad in craft is finally irrelevant since there is no difference between illusion and truth” as it is difficult for the audience to decide whether Hamlet is feigning his insanity or has actually become insane (Findlay).
Hamlet’s inability to control his emotions results in his inability to make mindful decisions. Despite being extremely brilliant, “at some critical moments when a sudden demand for difficult and decisive action arises, [Hamlet] becomes a thinker” and hesitates to act (Liang). When Hamlet is given the chance to kill Claudius while he appears to be praying, Hamlet decides to kill him when he is committing a sin so “his soul may be as damned and black as hell” . If he killed him while he was praying, Claudius’s soul would have went to heaven, but Hamlet wants to condemn Claudius to suffer an eternity in hell for murdering his father. Hamlet knows that he has to kill Claudius but “when it is time to take actions, he always hesitates” because Hamlet tends to overthink (Liang). When Claudius conspires with Laertes to murder Hamlet during a fencing match, they plan to “anoint [the] sword” that Laertes will use against Hamlet with poison. During that match, although Hamlet is able to kill Claudius, he dies too. If Hamlet did not stall killing Claudius, he wouldn’t have been killed in the end.
Hamlet is a well-loved and admired Danish hero whose death is credited to his weaknesses of emotional suffering and lack of action. Burdened by the task of avenging his father’s death accompanied by his sorrow makes Hamlet question his decisions and stops him from taking the necessary actions. Therefore, Hamlet should not be known as a lunatic instead as a highly intellectual individual whose philosophical nature came in the way of him bringing justice to his father. His hesitancy Although Hamlet was able to avenge his father’s death, his demise due to his irresolution earns him the title of a tragic hero. The Tragedy of Hamlet skillfully shows how the incapability to take action, despite noble intentions, can be destruction for an individual.