What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

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What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

Many believe that Hamlet's tragic flaw is his inability to make a decision, which leads to his inability to act.  His questioning of himself as well as others leads to not only his demise but the demise of others involved.

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What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

I would say that Hamlet's tragic flaw is his indecision and that his famous "To be or not to be" soliloquey is a perfect example of this. Hamlet spends so much time thinking through whether or not he should act (avenge his father's death), that he misses...

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thefamousape | Student

A tragic flaw is a trait that leads to a character's downfall. They have been employed in tragic works from the Ancient Greeks (where the tragic flaw tended to be hubris toward the gods) to the modern day. Historically, scholars agree that Hamlet's tragic flaw is his indecisiveness. He spends the majority of the play deciding whether or not to murder his Uncle Claudius, despite the ghost of his own father giving him specific instructions to do so. Instead of rushing into action, Hamlet spends the play collecting evidence, such as the play within the play (Act 3, scene 2) where he takes note of Claudius' guilt-ridden reaction to watching his own crimes, and his conversation with his mother two scenes later, when he accuses her of being complicit in the act: "A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother,/ As kill a king and marry with his brother." (Act 3, scene 4). He also shares many lengthy soliloquies with the audiences arguing with himself over the nature of sin, cowardice, and even contemplating his own suicide. Laertes and Fortinbras are both avenging their own fathers, and are thus established as foils to Hamlet, being men of action who are not plagued by the indecisiveness of the play's protagonist.

ariblanco | Student

I think we all agree that Hamlet is a very complex character, throughout the work is shown as an open book, narrating his feelings, pain and sadness,
but the one that is most remarkable is confusion.
Hamlet is indecisive, unable to carry out revenge. After all he's just a young man trying to cope with the death of his own father. His emotions collide, in his attempts to avenge the death of his father, by killing his uncle, Claudius, who had previously murdered his father.
Hamlet doubts and that's probably one of Shakespeare's way to make him look more human. His flaws.
Throughout the book he creates strategies, he debates whether to do it or not, how to do it, should he murder his own uncle?
Through soliloquies, in addition to showing his deep pain, he shows that his great flaw is to doubt.
If we pay attention at the beginning of his most famous soliloquy he questions himself "to be or not to be"
Hamlet was never decided. What led him to have his tragic flaw and makes him human and an unforgettable character.

tjg27 | Student

Throughout Hamlet, Shakespeare establishes Hamlet as a character who holds power in terms of politics, wisdom, and societal position. He is the prince of Denmark and thus a future heir to the throne of the nation. Although this does not necessarily give him any direct power as it is still his father who makes important decisions, he will soon hold this power himself. Given his political power this also carries a high societal position and this is evidenced by the people who he interacts with. He has very few interactions with those outside the court with this including Ophelia, Rosencratnz, Guildenstern, and the players. His actions towards these people rarely have him exercising his superior societal position telling her "That’s a fair thought to lie between maids' legs." He is also educated constantly questioning existence pointing out that "there is nothing either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so." Whilst Hamlet may hold power within the court, he rarely uses this power to show superiority over others. He is a humble character throughout the play, however, still possesses power from his position both political and societal.

iridawn | Student

I would say Hamlet's flaw is his inability to act. By stalling what should have been long done, not only does Hamlet stretch the play, but he stretches his mind in such a manner that he loses his sanity and his agency. When he finds out who his father's killer is, instead of going to murder him right away he stalls and stalls when in the end most likely the killer does not even know why he dies. Laertes is a foil; he acts right away when he understands that Hamlet has killed his father and is ready for revenge. 

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momzi | Student

Hamlets tragic flaw is his love and obsession with his mother. He has no moral issue blindly stabbing someone through the curtain. When Hamlet finds out it's not Claudius that he stabbed, he doesn't care. He does kill Claudius in the end with the sword and the poison. Unfortunately Gertrude didn't see it. But ultimately that's what he wanted. It's why the play depicting King Hamlets death was so important to him for Gertrude to see. It was all about the rage and feelings towards his mother. 

johnmike7431 | Student

His flaw is to be found not merely in his indecisiveness but in the character of his indecisiveness.  It is not just that he can't decide but that he will not take on himself the responsibility for deciding.  He wants the situation to decide for him -- i.e., wants the situation to be so clear that it is obvious what he must do.  He cannot accept that the situation is such that there is no totally clear path forward and that, in such situations, one must simply decide as best he can and accept the responsibility -- and the consequences.  Does he not believe in revenge killing?  Then let him grasp the nettle, choose not to kill, and accept the consequences as other advocates of nonviolence have:  Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others.  Or does he believe that ground- level facts of life call for killing Claudius, even though in an ideal world there would be some other path?  Then let him grasp the nettle and slay him, as Dieterich Bonhoeffer chose to be part of a plot to assassinate Hitler.  When he does make decisions, he does so rashly -- without thinking -- because the longer he thinks, the more apparent it becomes to  him that any decision will have to be his decision --  and he does not want that weight on his conscience.  For one who refuses to accept that burden of life, the only choices are Don't Decide and Decide Rashly.  Too bad he lived (so to speak) before that other famous Dane, Soren Kierkegaard.

zumba96 | Student

His flaw is his inability to make decision and how he characterizes others. He takes forever to actually make a move and kill Claudius even though he has months to complete the task. He second guesses himself. On top of that he struggles between life and death. In one soliloquy he believes that death is the answer to his problems, but then believes death is an honorable thing. Finally, he becomes indifferent about death. Hamlet can be characterized as bipolar and crazed. 

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udonbutterfly | Student

Hamlet's tragic flaw became his inability to act continuous second guessing especially when it comes to  taking out his revenge. Throughout the play his sole drive was to kill the one who killed his father. Hamlet had the opportunity to kill Claudius when he caught him in the Cathedral he did not due and because of this he ends up getting dragged into a battle with Laertes and is killed by Laertes sword. However he does get to kill Claudius but only when he's on the brink of death.

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indranil49 | Student

'Procrastination and indecisiveness' are the tragic flaw or Hamartia of Hamlet.

tyler-k | Student

Hamlet's tragic flaw is his "final task." He is so set on avenging his father that he loses sight of his own well being and what really matters. He had the potential to be great, but he didn't know how to prevent Claudius from stealing his mother and his power. Hamlet had no way of saving himself from his own desire to kill his father's murderer.

hidrofilnavata | Student

I would approach this subject from a different angle. Procrastination is not his flaw, it is a symptom of his flaw. As I see it, Hamlet's moral "compass" is in a discord with his time and that is the reason why he delays his revenge. Hamlet is a man who had an elite education away from his home, and his uniqueness stands out as he comes home from the University. Upon his arrival it is obvious that Hamlet is an extremely delicate and sensitive intellectual whose view of morality and obligation differs immensely from that of his surroundings'. The rules of the society he originated from demand that he kill his father's murderer, but his inner morality opposes this instinct. Hamlet finds himself stuck between social mores and his own sense of what is right. To choose to cast away society's rules is to choose to be completely isolated and that is the worst punishment for any man (even God did not kill Cain, he even forbade others to harm him because banishment and isolation are worse than death). Only upon seeing Fortinbrans' passion when it comes to ruling, Hamlet understood what kind of person he needed to become and it was only then that he accepted his place within his people and his obligations that come with his birthrights.

hadijaved | Student

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

Hiii. His tragic flaw is in his heart. He is a clever person because he makes devious plans to find out if King Claudius actually murdered his father or not so there is nothing wrong with his head. The problem is in his heart. he is hesitant to carry out the revenge on King Claudius. He lacks passion and willpower. :]
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ajprincess | Student


Hamlet's tragic flaw is his inconsistent approach to problems. In the scenarios that may call for quick, decisive behavior, Hamlet ruminates. An example of this is seen in Act III, iii when Hamlet has his knife over the head of Claudius, prepared to murdered him, and he talks himself out of it. Another example of this is the play put on by Hamlet in Act III, ii when he wants to have proof of his father's murder by Claudius. In reality, all Hamlet needs to do is act on the ghost's words.

In those scenarios that require thorough contemplation, Hamlet is impulsive. An example of this is seen when hears a "rat" listening in on his dialogue with his mother in Act III, iv. Without the necessary thought, Hamlet draws his sword and kills Polonius. Another example to support this premise is in Act I, iv when Hamlet threatens his friends and follows the potentially dangerous ghost into the forest without any contemplation.

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georgejijo | Student

in a single word it is procrastination which leads to Hamlet's own destruction. when we discuss about the tragic flaw of characters, we should recall the Aristotlean concept of a tragic hero;The tragic hero is a man of noble stature. He is not an ordinary man, but a man with outstanding quality and greatness about him. His own destruction is for a greater cause or principle. in the case of Hamlet, he is a noble character who defecit in decision making and that leads to his tragedy. we can see in a scene where Hamlet is getting a chance to revenge Claudius but he hesitates there and giving an irrational reason or which can be considered as superstitious. it is because of some psychological matters he frequently postpone his reveng. he thinks bravely but act cowardly. by procrasting his deed, unknowingly he invites his own doom. he could simply take his reveng on murderers of his beloved father, some how he takes his revenge but because of procrastinative tendency the same leads to his own destruction too..

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dancedan | Student

A tragic hero has the potential for greatness but is doomed to fail. He is trapped in a situation where he cannot win. He makes some sort of tragic flaw, and this causes his fall from greatness. Even though he is a fallen hero, he still wins a moral victory, and his spirit lives on.

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anetakurdi | Student

i think Hamlet's tragic flaw is hesitation. after performing the play,he became sure that his uncle had murdered his father but why  didn't  he kill him in that point???that is his weakness.

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nanthinii-mohan | Student

Hamlet's tragic flaw is "procrastination" (postponing a work) and his

inability to act when occasion calls for it.

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bobdarwish | Student

 

Hamlet's tragic flaw is indeed his inability to act. He promised to avenge his father's death but he could not do it. He had the chance to kill Claudius when he was in his chamber praying, but he kept making excuses for why he could not kill him. It is this indecisiveness that leads to his demise—his downfall. Claudius sends him to England and he has to go through a number of ordeals before his tragic flaw leads to Claudius, Gertrude and his own death.

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bibabitza | Student

First the features of the tragic hero are:
1- Belongs to a high rank (Hamlet was a prince)
2-He need to be Well known and well loved (Hartio and Ophelia loved him beside he is well known )
3-Weakness point (Hamlet was hesitant and couldn't take an action when he knew the murder of his father)
4- Commited sins (Hamlet killed polonius with no kind of reasons )
5- Suffering (Hamlet couldn't enjoy his life as a young prince he also didnt prove wether Claudius guilty or innocent  )
6- Downfall (  He was killed by a poisoned sword )
I think all this make him a tragic flaw ....

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loraaa | Student

This topic is very great, thank you very much for this good effort.
I have benefited a lot from it.
I wish everyone to benefit from this excellent topic.
Thank you again....

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brady4 | Student

ll hi or most of themhamlett is a man whose heart rules his mind. hee is an emotional man with a conscience  when he finally acts it i    is with descsion  with calculated thought that is with emotional thought  his major flaw may be his inability to trust his felt thougght process.

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brady4 | Student

hamlet's refusal to kill claudius in church shows his belief in the hereafter

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gwynhwyfar | Student

A more modern take on Hamlet's tragic flaw is his neurotic over-attachment to his mother. His understandable reaction to his father's murder is complicated by the motives for it. Is he truly enraged or more likely, more disappointed that he does not now have his mother all to himself (in strictly Freudian terms)?

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jgansauer | Student

In any other circumstances Hamlet would be praised for his careful deliberation.  Could we ever criticize someone who thinks too much?  In the case of Hamlet, over-deliberation seems to plague him, as evidenced especially in his "To be or not to be" speech in which the hero himself recognizes his own problem. I would suggest that had Hamlet acted quickly and without much over-thinking he might have saved himself, Ophelia, Laertes, Polonius, even his mother.

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jgansauer | Student

Hamlet's flaw is procrastination.

He keeps putting things off as he does not necessarily want to do them.

 A Shakespearean tragic flaw is one that under other circumstances would be considered a positive quality, but in unique circumstances turns against the tragic hero.  "Procrastination" could never be considered a positive quality to begin with.

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purplepandaress | Student

Hamlets tragic flaw may be that underneath his 'antic disposition' and wittiness there is a vulnerability, that may have initated from the betrayal of his mother and uncle, but he is unable to avenge his father sooner. He does not take the opportunity to kill claudius while he prays yet claudius effortlessly plots against him in a cowardly attempt to kill him during the fencing. His flaw may be that he feels the pain of life that is a hinderance to his performace of revenge.

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isthatjamesjoyce | Student

I tend to agree with #21 in some respects. Hamlet, stemming from Danish family of noble roots, has all the qualities to be a hero. He is clearly a man of action, who is forced into a world that is contaminated. His action is not as easily accessible due to the moral, religious and family restrictions in place. His desire for action can be seen in his interest in the Warriors who are up in arms at by the side of their Prince for glory. As a product of his position he is forced into a role where action is impossible, that is his tragic flaw.

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wffef3 | Student
What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

What is Hamlet's tragic flaw?

His tragic flaw is basically his obsession with revenge, which ultimately consumes him and leads to his downfall (ie. death). Think that the tragic flaw is what always leads to the downfall.

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aik87- | Student

I think as royal person. He was unablr to understand his motives. he is confused

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authorpd | Student

Psychologists say that "no living human is perfect". That means everyone has a flaw / some flaws in his personality. Circumstances and the emotional state of mind at that perticular moment brings this flaw out of the hidden recesses of  mind and start dominating the personality of the individual. Shakespeare's tragic heroes have this trait. That way they are mentally crippled to the extent of their flaws. Hamlet suffers from 'indecision'. That's his flaw. He cannot take a firm decision - right or wrong - at the moment of killing Polonius. He rather finds comfort in excuses and hence delays the action of taking revenge of his father's murder by Polonius. This indecision and consequent delay make him impotent for action. And that brings his downfall leading to death in the fencing match vs Polonius.

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syedisha | Student

Procrastination is Hamlet's tragic flaw.

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kazmig | Student

I do not believe that Hamlet posesses any tragic flaw in his character. It is said by the majority of the critics that the " deley in action " was the tragic flaw in Hamlet. But in the play his every delay is justified by a cojent reason.so we can,t associate this flaw to Hamlet.He was a man of action we see when he was in graveyard he did not made any delay.He just delivering a famous speech took the charg of the situation.

I loved Opehlia fourty thousand brothers, could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.

Where is the delay of action in Hamlet,s personality.

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rosemeri | Student

Hmmm, would it be fair to categorize Hamlet as an Aristotelian tragic hero?  Shakespeare didn't really follow Aristotle's ideal of the tragic hero.  Certainly his flaw was his inability to act, but he lacks hubris and a sense of commitment, which are part of Aristotle's tragic hero.  I think we might want to be careful to just bundle him on with the Aristotelian tragic hero.

As Marchette Chute noted in Stories from Shakespeare, Shakespeare didn't appear to know anything about Greek or Roman history (because honestly, how did Theseus become Duke of Athens?). In my opinion, he may never have had a Classical education, which would have included reading Aristotle.

It's quite possible that Shakespeare never read Aristotle's Poetics at all and therefore lack of any idea of the formalized tragic hero of Aristotle.

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ybrant6712 | Student

In reply to #1    Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' is one of his most puzzling plays in that Hamlet possesses all the qualities required by a tragic hero -he hails from a lofty family and commands respect,his suffering  is exceptional  and inspires pity awe and terror .His multifaceted nature is revealed through the use of metaphoric language- he is at home with terminology derived from law,falconry, classical mythology,or theatrical imagery.Thus the attributes of a 'courtier ,soldier and scholar' are impressed  very early upon the mind of the reader ;but Hamlet the intellectual and sensitive  hero is caught in a web of deceit ,introspection and procrastination.Despite having an advantage over a guilty Claudius his uncertainty and pangs of conscience prevent him from taking action .He thus  fails to avenge his father's death,time and again.

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adibuddyboy | Student

hamlet was quite an extreme personality. He was very deeply affected by his father's tragic death. To take his father's revenge he makes a plan. now another great flaw was that he was quite a suspicious and unsure character.

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pnil10swa | Student

PRINCE HAMLET ALWAYS THINK ABOUT MORAL THINGS WHENEVER HE DECIDES TO TAKE REVENGE OF CLAUDIUS.THAT'S WHY DELAYED IN ACTION AND HIGH THINKING ARE TRAGIC FLAWS OF HAMLET.

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simsimsim | Student

I believe that the Shakespearian tragic hero is driven to his downfall because of a defect in his personality. Hamlet was hesitant and he kept delaying fulfilling the duty given to him by his father's ghost, which is killing his uncle Claudius who had killed his father. He had got many "good" chances to avange himself against Claudius but he did nothing and "paid" a lot for this. In a world, Hamlet's tragic flaw is hesitation.

I believe that the Shakespearian tragic hero, as it were, is driven to his downfall because of a defect in his personality. Hamlet was hesitant and he kept delaying fulfilling the duty given to him by his father's ghost, which is killing his uncle Claudius who had killed his father. He had got many "good" chances to avenge himself against Claudius but he did nothing and "paid" a lot for this. In a word, Hamlet's tragic flaw is hesitation.

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hanypaki | Student

i want to know whether hamlet the hero falls under the category of Aristotelian ideal tragic hero. three of his characteristics match the aristotle's hero i.e. nobility, free will and hamartia.

plz help me write find this answer

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poissonnoir | Student

Despite the "vicious mole in nature" reference early in the play, which might suggest tragic flaw, does Shakespeare feel bound to produce an Aristotelian protagonist, complete with flaw, when he so flagrantly ignores most other Aristotelian conventions (time, place, action)?

Hamlet is not like Macbeth or King Lear who are clearly shapers of their own tragic decline.  Who was it who said that of all Shakespeare's tragic heroes, Hamlet is the one true innocent?

Consider the possibility that this may not be so much a tragedy of character as it is a tragedy of circumstance. The play shows us what happens to a truly noble individual trapped in circumstances beyond his control.

Are we comfortable with labelling idealism and "thinking too precisely on the event" as flaws?  The play is full of men of action (Claudius and Laertes), but do we really want Hamlet to emulate them?

Shakespeare manipulates us brilliantly throughout the play: for example, consider the Chapel Scene: can Hamlet stab Claudius in the back when he is kneeling in a chapel surrounded by all the symbols of Christianity.  He can't do it, and we don't want him to do it.  And the kicker is that "words without thoughts never to heaven go."

The play is full of questions, beginning "Who's there?" Its most memorable soliloquy is structured around its opening question.  Shakespeare has created a labyrinth for the mind: Did Hamlet really love Ophelia? How guilty is Gertrude? Do R&G deserve their fate?

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somadina | Student

oedipus is a tragic hero of error.discuss

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berny | Student
  1. In reply to #6: what was the meaning of that task
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lolololololololololololololololololololololol | Student

Another example would be, Hamlet refuses to kill Claudius when he is praying in the church. This is because he fears it will give him a direct route into heaven.

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fortinbras | Student

Hmmm, would it be fair to categorize Hamlet as an Aristotelian tragic hero?  Shakespeare didn't really follow Aristotle's ideal of the tragic hero.  Certainly his flaw was his inability to act, but he lacks hubris and a sense of commitment, which are part of Aristotle's tragic hero.  I think we might want to be careful to just bundle him on with the Aristotelian tragic hero.

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xmeganaliciax | Student

Hamlet's flaw is procrastination.

He keeps putting things off as he does not necessarily want to do them.

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frizzyperm | Student

I often think that Hamlet's problem (or tragic flaw if you like) is his idealism.

Hamlet suffers from too much philosophy. He loves beauty. He loves reason. He loves honesty. He loves virtue. He loves balance, harmony and thought.

But he looks around him and see murder, lies, greed, stupidity, ignorance, hatred and chaos. The world makes no sense to him. So he does nothing.

 

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arjun | Student

The play deals with Hamlet’s suffering and tragic end. Hamlet, like the other tragic heroes of Shakespeare, belongs to upper or royal class. He follows Aristotle`s definition of tragic hero. He has exceptional qualities like graceful personality and popularity among his country that is eminent. His tragic flaw is his delay in action and irresolution that depends on the nature of self analysis. Coleridge words: "His enormous intellectual activity prevents from instant action and the result is delay and irresolution."

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