Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Hamlet: A Tragic Hero? Is Hamlet a “tragic hero” in the true sense of tragedy?

Hamlet is indeed a tragic hero in the true sense of tragedy as he’s a high-born character who’s brought low by a character flaw. Hamlet also has an antagonist in the shape of his wicked uncle and stepfather, Claudius. In his downfall, Hamlet suffers a complete reversal of fortune, a characteristic fate of the tragic hero.

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In Shakespeare's classic play, Hamlet fits the criteria of a tragic hero by making a significant judgment error, which inevitably leads to his downfall. Hamlet's tragic flaw results in a dramatic reversal of fortune, and his punishment is greater than deserved, which evokes the audience's pity and sympathy. A tragic hero must possess a potential for greatness and occupy a privileged status. Since Hamlet is Prince of Denmark and hails from royalty, he fits these criteria and will eventually have the opportunity to ascend the throne. Hamlet is also portrayed as a conscientious, intelligent individual who is popular among the masses and will undoubtedly make a good king. His privileged status and enormous upside emphasize his tragic downfall, making his descent more poignant and heartbreaking.

In addition to Hamlet's potential for greatness, he also possesses a tragic flaw, which significantly influences the downward trajectory of his life. Hamlet's tragic flaw is his hesitation and inability...

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ajd626 | Student

I personally believe that Hamlet, by the end of the play, is not a truly tragic hero. Before he is sent to England by Claudius, he definitely is a tragic hero as he is constantly in a state of anxiety brought about by his false belief he must pretend to be mad to cope with his dilemma. However, once he returns to Denmark, as he looks upon the gravediggers, it is very clear he has found a place of inner peace and has become himself again. He has to wade through some horrible things before the end of the play, yes, but the essence of tragedy is not about the nature of the events which befall a hero but the state of mind he is in when they befall him.

schroa | Student

If you read the outline of Aristotle's theory in his book POETICS for tragic heroes I believe he is a tragic hero.

http://vccslitonline.cc.va.us/tragedy/aristotle.htm