Do you think that Hamlet's hesitation can be seen as a tragic flaw or is his revenge more complex than this suggests?  I need to start my coursework but I'm not sure how to start ...please help me !!

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hamlet’s hesitation is a very complex “nonaction,” and is not a tragic flaw at all, in the Aristotelian sense.  Hamlet cannot act on his own anger at his mother’s quick marriage, nor is the vision of his father’s ghost sufficient “ocular proof” for him to commit regicide (according to his – Danish – beliefs, the Devil can conjure up such images to draw humans into sins, such as murder).  All scholars agree that Hamlet’s hesitation is not a character weakness (even though Hamlet himself chastises himself for his hesitation: “ How all occasions do inform against me”).  There is a scholarly opinion, however, that Shakespeare did have a habit of personifying human characteristics in whole characters (Iago in Othello is considered an embodiment of jealousy, for example) and Hamlet could be one of those characters, but not of a flaw – rather, of man’s conflicting traits, responding to visceral emotions vs. responding to reason). The play works because the audience (or readership) shares the same hesitation as the main character.  To the naïve witness (someone who did not know the story of Hamlet before seeing a performance), the question of Hamlet’s action vs. inaction should be the spine of the dramatic experience.  You might start your examination of the play, then, by looking at how the "clues" to Hamlet's final decision build up.

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