Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

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When discussing the "tragic flaw" first taught by Aristotle, scholars love to fight about what Hamlet's tragic flaw might be. Perhaps the most common possible tragic flaw mentioned and easily proved through the text is the flaw of inaction, or Hamlet's inability to act. Scholars who point to this as Hamlet's flaw deem Hamlet to be the top procrastinator of his time. Scholars who don't agree that inaction is Hamlet's tragic flaw must admit that Hamlet's inability to act is at the very least an important theme of Shakespeare's work. The reader doesn't even get out of Act I before this theme is being presented. The ghost has just demanded revenge by way of Hamlet planning his uncle's murder, and Hamlet delays the action first by "testing" all of the characters by putting "an antic disposition on." Instead of taking action, Hamlet simply pretends to be crazy. Hamlet furthers the theme just a few lines later by saying, "The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, / That ever I was born to set it right." Here, Hamlet admits that he does not want to take revenge at all.

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