What are the effects of the tragic flaw on the hero in "Hamlet"?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, Hamlet's tragic flaw needs to be identified.  If he has one, it is his tendency to overthink and over-analyze things, if that can be viewed as a flaw.  It is this constant analysis that keeps him from acting, from doing as his father's ghost asked him to do - kill Claudius.  When Hamlet first encounters the ghost in Act 1, sc. 5, he swears to do as the ghost asks of him.  He doesn't do it until less than 100 lines before the end of the play. He says in Act 1, sc. 5 that he believes what he saw was his father's ghost, then in Act 2, sc. 2, he decides to perform a test to see if the ghost he saw really was his father's spirit.  In Act 4, sc. 4, when he hears of how quickly and efficiently, Fortinbras acts on his goal, Hamlet swears that from that point on, he will concentrate solely on avenging his father's death.  All of these delays, this tendency to overthink, are what create the tragic flaw in Hamlet and their effect on him is that many people die: Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Gertrude, and Hamlet himself.