Homework Help

Which quotation in "Hamlet" refers to his tragic flaw? Please explain the quotation.

user profile pic

witchiz78 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted March 2, 2010 at 9:36 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Which quotation in "Hamlet" refers to his tragic flaw? Please explain the quotation.

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted March 2, 2010 at 9:36 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

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 and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action

The above quotation from Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy in Act III Sc.1 encapsulates Hamlet's 'tragic flaw' and his moral dilemma.

Hamlet's 'tragic flaw' of course is 'procrastination' - he is well aware that his uncle Claudius has murdered his father and has usurped the throne. Now, all that he has to do is to quickly avenge the evil deeds of his uncle. But Hamlet  is hampered by his over scrupulous conscience which prevents him from immediately avenging his father's murder. His conscience prevents him from acting swiftly by debating at length the pros and cons of his action, with the result that the mental process of thinking what exactly he must do  completely nullifies the effectiveness of the plan of action he finally decides upon.

user profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:13 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

Another quote that indicates Hamlet's tragic flaw that appears later in Shakespeare's Hamlet is spoken in Act 4.4.31-32.  Hamlet has just witnessed Fortinbras's army on its way to Poland to capture a piece of worthless land.  Two thousand men and 20,000 ducats will be the cost of just beginning the attack, all for something so worthless.  Hamlet sees this as a rebuke of his failure to kill Claudius, and says:

How all occasions do inform against me,

and spur my dull revenge.

Hamlet says "all occasions," not just the occasion of seeing the Norwegian army.  He sums up other events in the play that he has also interpreted as rebukes:  the player's speech concerning Hecuba, his refusal to kill Claudius while Claudius was praying, the fact that the ghost had to appear to him a second time because Hamlet had not yet done his job.

All occasions do, indeed, inform against Hamlet's delay.  At least that's how he sees it in this scene.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes