William Shakespeare: Hamlet Tragic Hero

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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This essay will explore the character of Hamlet as a tragic hero in Shakespeare’s play. It will discuss Hamlet’s tragic flaw, his internal conflict, and the series of events leading to his tragic end, and how these elements conform to the characteristics of a classical tragic hero. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Hamlet.

Category: Hamlet
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Pages:  4
Words:  1286
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 Someone once said, “Grief is like living two lives. One is where you “pretend” everything is alright, and the other is where your heart silently screams in pain” (Unknown Author). In William Shakespeare’s playwright, Hamlet, the main character undergoes situations of dealing with the loss of his father. Hamlet is lost and is seeking answers to compensate for his pain.

In Act I Scene 2, Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s exclamations and mythological comparisons to show how the way one reacts to the loss of a loved one can reveal their true character.

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Hamlet expresses deep sadness for the loss of his father right as an entry. He bemoaned the fact that he cannot commit suicide and explains in lines 335-336 that “self-slaughter” is not an option because it is forbidden by God. However, if suicide was not forbidden he would willingly end his life right there.

Hamlet portrays a man that is lost and stuck in a deep black hole. He would rather be united with his father in the heavens, than witness the replacement of his father’s throne. As seen in the first two lines, he is saying he doesn’t want to exist any more.“O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!” (Shakespeare, 333-334). The repetitive use of “too” could serve as a way to reveal Hamlet’s uneasy nature. He indeed is saddened by his father’s death, which is causing him to be in a shaken mental state. If he was in a stable mindset his words would be presented not so repetitively or rushed. Hamlet wants to dissolve into a puddle serving no use because that is how he feels at the moment.

Readers can get a sense of the deep relationship Hamlet had with his father. His father was his everything and true inspiration as to what he sought to be when he was older. When that was all vanished in the midst of a short amount of time, all the joy was gone out of life and its pleasures in his eyes. As stated, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” (Shakespeare, Lines 337-338). Hamlet’s choice of words all share the meaning of feeling useless or drained in a sense.

His depressing connotations make readers concerned for the sake of his mental health. He is rather depressed and sees life as an option rather than an honor. Hamlet’s questionable nature of life is presented greatly in the beginning of his soliloquy. He exemplifies a tone of being unsteady through his negative feelings towards life. A powerful comparison of life was made by Hamlet, “Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature” (Shakespeare 339-340).

Hamlet compares life to a garden that has been allowed to run wild and grow gross and disgusting things in it as a result of a lack of tending. His mental state is revealing the worse perspectives he has deep within. The disgusting matters that roam the gardens could be in direct correlation to his uncle. When gardens are left unattended for too long it can turn into something unpleasant. In a way, the death of Hamlet’s father left the throne unattended. Then his brother took the throne, which was frowned upon greatly by Hamlet.

Not only does Hamlet express his internal feelings towards his father’s death, but he depicts his father as a figure that is incomparable. Hamlet says his father is a great king and compares him to Hyperion, who is one of the mythological Titans. He compares his uncle to Claudius a satyr. “So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother” (Shakespeare, 343-344). Hyperion is known to be a god of light and wisdom. Whereas, Claudius is a mythical part-human-part-animal monster with a constant, exaggerated erection.

He goes on to say his father was so loving to his mother that he would stop the very winds from blowing too hard against her face. Takeaways from such comparisons could be that his father is seen as significantly mightier than his uncle. His uncle is presented as this man that may cast a false appearance on the outside, but in reality is dark and wicked within. Hamlet does not have the best relationship with his uncle, which makes this new adjustment of him as king rather difficult. He views his uncle as unfitted and weak in spirit for such a role his father used to uphold. Not to mention, Hamlet is upset with his mother’s speedy recovery over such a loss. His father showed immense love for his wife and the love was reciprocated.

However, her actions after his death could reveal that upholding her royal status was more important than mourning over the loss of her beloved. Hamlet compares his mother’s remorse for his father to the actions of Niobe, a figure in Greek mythology. “Like Niobe, all tears; — why she, even she” (Shakespeare, Line 353). Niobe was a woman who wept for nine days and nights when all her children were slain by the gods. Hamlet implies that even still, his own mother didn’t stay faithful to his father’s memory for long. She put on a character for being upset temporarily, but moved on rather quickly. Her actions evoke her as being an individual who may have humane attributes, but is selfish. Hamlet reveals his opinions of woman being the embodiment of weakness, but his opinions are biased in a sense. He is taking all of his anger out on his mother because he idolized his father so much.

Once that idol was gone before his eyes, he immediately blamed his anger towards his mother’s actions, which is a normal human attribute. This common use of mythological comparisons is executed even towards the very end of his soliloquy. O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn’d longer, — married with mine uncle” (Shakespeare 354-359). Hamlet claims that even a brainless beast would have mourned a loved one longer. He discusses how his mother not only didn’t mourn for long, but she married her dead husband’s own brother.

He also states that Claudius and King Hamlet were as different from each other as Hamlet himself is from Hercules. Shakespeare wanted his readers to understand that serious, scholarly, melancholy Hamlet is very different from the mythological hero, Hercules. Hercules is a man of great strength and courage, which Hamlet views himself as drastically different. He is confused as to why his mother would want to marry a man so different from his father and this only adds to his anger from the whole situation.

Overall, Hamlet is mourning over his father’s loss alone. He doesn’t have a figure to turn to that would reciprocate the same feelings he has deep within. He is angry at the world and wishes for only answers as to why everything is the way it is. Hamlet’s father was depicted as a man who held great character and status while on the throne. That is why it’s so difficult for him to accept the fact that his mother chose a man quite the opposite.

Hamlet, his mother, and uncle are all dealing with the loss of King Hamlet rather differently. However, the ways they chose to react reveal who they truly are as human beings. That being said, the same implies for the world we live in today. When individuals take time to mourn, it shows their vulnerability and humane side. Individuals that move on quickly are seen as being insecure and not wanting to face problems head on.       

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William Shakespeare: Hamlet Tragic Hero. (2021, Jul 13). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/hamlet-tragic-hero/