what is the Hamlet's tragic flaw?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hamlet's tragic flaw is that he is indecisive. He thinks too much. He is too introspective. Perhaps his problem is that he is too intelligent. He has been going to school at Wittenberg for many years, and though he is thirty years old he still wants to go back for more study. He seems to want to escape from reality by burying himself in books. He must know at least six languages and is deeply read in all of them. He would have to know German to go to Wittenberg. He would have to know Latin to qualify for admission and possibly ancient Greek. He knows Danish, of course. He must know English if he is being sent to England as an ambassador. He shows that he is a connoisseur of Italian when discussing the play "The Murder of Gonzago." And he probably knows some Norwegian and Swedish. No doubt he knows French, the language of culture in Europe. He prefers thinking to acting. He only acts on impulse when he has no time to think about the outcome, as when he murders Polonius or when he leaps aboard the pirate ship or jumps into Ophelia's grave with Laertes. Otherwise, he is always thinking. Shakespeare shows this characteristic by giving him six soliloquies, including the famous "To be or not to be."

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