What makes Hamlet a tragic hero?What makes Hamlet a tragic hero?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aristotle stated that the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition about human nature and fate.  This sort of recognition is termed " a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate."

Tragically, Hamlet comes to this awareness of a bond of love with both Ophelia who truly loves him and whom he realizes he did love as well as with his mother, who drinks the poison intended for her son so that he may live.  Only as she dies does Hamlet realize her loyalty; before he accuses her of unfaithfulness to his father and his memory.

Hamlet's awareness of a bond of hate comes in his recognition of his repulsion for nature and man:  In Act II, scene II, Hamlet remarks that the "majestical roof of the sky "fretted with golden fire" is nothing but "a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors" to him.  Man, "noble in reason, infinite in faculties,...like an angel in apprehension (learning),...like a god:  the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals" is nothing but a "quintessence of dust" to him.  In his melancholia Hamlet feels only disgust with nature and man.

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Firstly, a tragic hero typically begins in a place of nobility and falls because of his tragic flaw. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. His noble status is the first indicator that he is a tragic hero. Hamlet then fakes his madness in order to discover his uncle's fatal lies. Hamlet's excessive pride, or hubris, first leads to Ophelia's death (when he refuses to break from his madness to comfort her), and eventually leads to his own death and the death of many people around him.