Hamlet As A Tragedy

Discuss how Hamlet by Shakespeare is a tragedy.

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This topic has been dealt with many times here on eNotes.  Here is a comprehensive link for you:  http://www.enotes.com/hamlet/q-and-a/tags/Tragedy

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In Hamlet, the young character Hamlet struggles with a decision on if and when and how to avenge his father's death. Likewise, Hamlet struggles with his mother's marriage to his Uncle Claudius. Hamlet cannot understand how his mother could marry so soon, less than two months, after his father's death. Clearly, Hamlet is a character with whom the audience is able to sympathize, thus making Hamlet a tragedy.

Likewise, as in a great tragedy, Hamlet is himself a flawed yet admirable protagonist:

The protagonist must be an admirable but flawed character, with the audience able to understand and sympathize with the character. Certainly, all of Shakespeare's tragic protagonists are capable of both good and evil.

Truly, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies:

The tragedy is a milestone in Shakespeare's dramatic development; the playwright achieved artistic maturity in this work through his brilliant depiction of the hero’s struggle with two opposing forces: moral integrity and the need to avenge his father’s murder.

Indeed, Hamlet does question himself on whether or not he should kill his Uncle Claudius or should he just suffer in silence, knowing his father was murdered by his Uncle Claudius. In his most memorable soliloquy, he questions whether it is to be or not to be:

To be, or not to be, that is the question.
Is it nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to fight against a sea of troubles,
And end them by fighting?

Truly, Hamlet is a tragedy in that young Hamlet is filled with such suffering until he questions whether it is more noble to suffer in the mind or retaliate. Should he murder his Uncle Claudius is a question that plagues him. Young Hamlet is indecisive and this creates bouts of depression for the young prince, making the tragedy even more memorable:

Hamlet is also a melancholy figure, given to depression, who is victimized by a cruel fate and compelled to undertake a revenge mission for which he is not prepared. Not only are Hamlet's musings about life extensive, they are uniformly dark. Seen in this light, Hamlet does not act because he lacks the emotional fortitude to do so, depression and courage being difficult to reconcile.

In the end, Shakespeare's Hamlet is a great tragedy because too many people die. Polonius is killed by Hamlet. Ophelia drowns herself. Laertes strikes Hamlet with his poisonous sword. Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, drinks the poisoned drink meant for Hamlet, and she dies. Hamlet strikes Laertes with the poisonous sword and he dies. Hamlet forces Claudius to drink the poisoned drink and then stabs Claudius. Finally, Hamlet dies. NO doubt, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies:

Hamlet is without question the most famous play in the English language.

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