Hamlet’s “Tragic Flaw”

Hamlet’s famous soliloquy (Hamlet, act III, scene 1) shows his depth and ability in thinking, and shows Shakespeare’s ability to manipulate language. Throughout the play, Hamlet stops to think before acting on anything. The more he thinks, the less he does. Therefore, thinking led him to doubt, which led to inaction. “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” Hamlet’s “tragic flaw” is his inability to act on impulse.

Stopping to think before acting cost Hamlet numerous opportunities to get revenge. He ironically passed up his most obvious opportunity when Claudius was praying in the church. He wanted to wait until Claudius was doing something that had “no relish of salvation in ‘t.”

We are like Hamlet, at times. the more we think of doing something, the more we find wrong with it. Hamlet decided to stay with his troubles in life rather than commit suicide and “fly to others” he knew nothing of. Sometimes, we are like that - staying with what we are familiar with rather than making changes. we are afraid to think about a decision we’ve made because we may come to regret it later or change our minds.

Sometimes when we think about something a long time, it almost seems like we’ve done it, so then we don’t. Hamlet was different; the longer he brewed over his father’s murder, the angrier and more impassioned toward revenge he became. On his journey home to Denmark, he thought about revenge and planned to kill Claudius.

Recognizing he was the victim of a pre-planned duel, Hamlet let his anger overcome him. Hamlet killed Claudius in an impulsive act, thus overcoming his own “tragic flaw.”

Hamlet, Shakespeare, act III, scene 1.

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Mann Erudite – Essays on Literary Works