What are the souece of Hamlet's tragedy?Which are most important? Why?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is probably one of the most complex questions that could be asked.  Even though it seems simple enough, given the intricacies of the play, it is powerfully deep.  I would submit that Hamlet possesses two sources of tragedy.  The first would be the attempt to gain moral purity in a morally impure world.  Hamlet cannot overcome the fact that his father had been murdered and those who participated in it are benefiting.  This view of reality, where those who sin benefit at the costs of those who are morally upstanding, proves to be one of the major sources of Hamlet's predicament.  He is unable to overcome the fact that what should be is not what is.  This causes him great agony and anguish, and might be the source of why he is in such pain while causing great pain to others.  Another origin of his pain is his inability to act.  Hamlet's predicament of his "function being smothered by surmise" is of critical relevance to Hamlet as it causes him more frustration in wanting to act, but not doing so.

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