Hamlet : A Tragic Mistake Essay, Research Paper
A Tragic Mistake
Many elements are compiled to create a tragedy. These increments of drama consist of everything from the murderous villain to the fallen hero. One element that who significance may have often been overlooked is that of the tragic mistake. In the other words, that one flaw, wrongful action, error, or twist of fate that caused all to turn out wrong. In tragedy the tragic mistake must occur or that the play would no longer be a tragedy. If that tragic mistake(s) did not occur, all of that death and torment caused to the protagonist of a tragedy would not happen and change the entire category of the play.
Every play write that has ever written a tragedy has inserted one or several tragic mistakes at critical juncture of the play. Once that tragic mistake occurs an almost domino effect sequential acts begin and ultimately lead to the destruction of the protagonist, William Shakespeare has become one of the greatest proprietor of this mistake in the history of literature. In examining any of Shakespeare s tragedies, one must consider the way in which a reversal of fortune brings about the destruction of the hero. One of Shakespeare s tragedies seems to stand out as excellent example of the results of one or more tragic mistakes, Hamlet.
Hamlet and his action eventually lead to his own demise and end. Hamlet is a play that concerns the murder of the king of Denmark and the murdered king s son s quest for revenge. Its main character, Hamlet, possesses a flaw that leads him to commit a grave error. This flaw obstructs his desire for revenge and ultimately brings about his death. One has to admire Shakespeare s thinking, by creating this flaw he makes Hamlet a tragic hero, a character who is destroyed because of a major weakness in his character. Hamlet s flaw of irresolution, the uncertainty on how to act or proceed, is shown in Hamlet s indecisiveness in pursuit to avenge his father s death.
Hamlet s irresolution is shown when he then observes one portion of a play being performed for the king and queen in which one of the players puts on a great display of emotion. Hamlet, overwhelmed by guilt and self-contempt, remarks in a soliloquy the emotion this player showed despite the fact that the player had nothing to be emotional about. Hamlet observed that he himself had all the reason in the world to react with great emotion and sorrow, yet he failed to show any that could compare with the act of the player. Hamlet calls himself a “rogue and peasant slave” and a “dull and muddy-mettled rascal” who, like a “John-a-dreams”, can take no action. Hamlet continues his fiery speech by degrading himself and deciding to take some sort of action to avenge his father s death.
Hamlet s flaw of irresolution is shown after another soliloquy, Hamlet directly identifies his own flaw, remarking of his own inability to act. Hamlet, unsure whether or not the his uncle Claudius was responsible for his father s murder, schemes to have The Murder of Gonzago presented to the royal court, with a few minor changes, so its contents would closely resemble the circumstances behind the murder. Reflecting on his own guilt, he talks of death, referring to it as the undiscovered country, and then continues by riddling his own feelings. He declares “conscience does make cowards of us all” and that the natural reddish features of one intention, or determinant, on an act are “sicklied” over with the “pale cast of thought”. This makes an individual second guess his own actions and often times take no action at all, due to his own irresolution. After Hamlet s philosophical self-review, he thinks of Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, and the action he was taking in fighting. He then examines Fortinbras s efforts and bravery in an attempt to rekindle his own desire for revenge against Claudius for his father s death. Hamlet remarks how everything around him attempts to “spur my dull revenge”, yet he takes no action. He notices how he thinks “too precisely on an event” and that he has “cause, and will, and strength, and means” to get revenge and how the evidence pointing to Claudius as his father s killer could not be any clearer. Hamlet finally decides “my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!” He realizes he must take action against Claudius in some form or fashion.
Unfortunately, his thinking at that moment was only temporary. Hamlet s indecisive pursuit in avenging his father s death is shown as evidence of his flaw of irresolution. Hamlet comes across several opportunities to kill Claudius, yet he always comes up with some excuse preventing him from executing the act. After first hearing of the crime from his father s ghost, Hamlet immediately sets out to take action. Hamlet then began to think that perhaps his father s ghost was conjured by the devil in an attempt to make Hamlet become irrational and kill Claudius, who may be innocent, which would forever damn his soul. Hamlet then schemes to determine Claudius s guilt through the play. Claudius views the play and becomes very uncomfortable with the situation to the point of stopping the play and leaving. This confirms Claudius s guilt to Hamlet, and Hamlet again sets out to avenge his father s death. Hamlet then catches Claudius in prayer, a rare time he will find Claudius alone. Hamlet, again, begins to think how Claudius will have had his sins forgiven and that he wants to damn Claudius s soul. Hamlet resolves to wait and kill Claudius at another time. Claudius, through all of this, realizes Hamlet knows of his crime and plots to have Hamlet killed by first sending him to England and then having him murdered. Hamlet escapes this ploy and Claudius plots again to have Hamlet killed in a fencing match. At the fencing match, Hamlet is wounded by a poisoned strike with the foil. Hamlet, in a dying act, kills Claudius by making him drink poison. Hamlet s flaw of irresolution essentially destroyed him. This is the tragic Mistake, his failure to act in previous situations. The events that occurred as a result of Hamlet not killing Claudius when first given the opportunity led to his own death.