Critical Essay On Hamlets Character Flaws

Hamlet's Character Flaws in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

  • Length: 454 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
Hamlet's Character Flaws in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

In every play or book that a person reads the characters are never perfect. They always have a flaw that causes a problem or conflict within the storyline. This is true for Hamlet's character in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. In several of Hamlet's speeches he discloses many flaws in his character to the readers throughout the play. These are aspects that have thus far only been able to be seen as fragments in other speeches.
One of Hamlet's most renowned traits is his over-analysis of conversational topics and situations in which action must be taken. This is a major flaw in his character. In Hamlet's speech in act three, scene three he reveals himself to be an over-analytical man when he is about to kill Claudius, stops and says," And so he goes to heaven" (III, 3, 74). He also shows that he does not really want to kill Claudius but feels compelled to out of a sense of duty to his dead father. Hamlet demonstrates his over-analytical nature in line seventy-five of the speech when he says, "That would be scanned:" meaning that he should examine his situation more closely. Instead of simply killing Claudius while he had the chance, he over-analyzes and eventually decides to postpone Claudius' murder. By doing this Hamlet is missing the best chance he will obtain in the play. An example of his over-analytical nature is also apparent in his speech in act one, scene four, line 15. He begins his speech quite normally, replying with a simple answer to Horatio's inquiry but then his thoughts begin to wander and he starts to analyze and philosophize about topics unrelated to Horatio's question. Hamlet's over-analytical nature causes a flaw in his character and helps lead to many others.
Not only is Hamlet an over-analytical character but he is also a procrastinator and this is demonstrated many times in the play. He knows that he must kill Claudius but he postpones when he says "Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge" (III, 3, 79). This almost suggests that Hamlet does not really want to kill Claudius, but feels obligated to do so. Through his over-analysis he seems to be almost talking himself out of doing his job.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Hamlet's Character Flaws in William Shakespeare's Hamlet." 13 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay - Hamlet by William Shakespeare A Shakespearean scene, with all of its intricacies and details, has the capacity to uncover the fundamental aspects of characters while acting as a space for precise language to lead the reader through multilayered themes, tensions, and ideas. Particularly in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, the dense, rippling text packs provocative and meaningful language within nearly every line to compose an intricate, seamless tragic play. Specifically in the first scene of Act 3, the actions, dialogue, and movements of each character involved creates a momentum of revelation for the reader regarding central character, Hamlet, and the breadth of his character....   [tags: Hamlet William Shakespeare Essays]1824 words
(5.2 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Universal Acceptance of Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay - Universal Acceptance of Hamlet by William Shakespeare The tragedy and situation in the play ‘Hamlet’ has been commented on as ‘universal.’ Audiences of many different cultures can enjoy ‘Hamlet’ even though it is set in an alien culture to them. The reasons for this are that many people can relate to the play, they feel that they are living though a profound experience, even if nothing in the plot of Hamlet has ever happened to them. The experience of ‘Hamlet’ is not restricted to the plot and its characters....   [tags: Hamlet William Shakespeare Essays]2005 words
(5.7 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay on Character Flaws in Shakespeare’s Plays - Introduction The main purpose of this paper is to examine Shakespeare’s characters and their flaws, comparing them with the modern characters written by Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter. For that purpose, comparative analysis will be used in this paper. The results will show that nothing has truly changed since the Shakespearean era. People live in a corrupted society, influenced by poisonous doctrines. However, the paper shows that there are still hope for mankind, but only if people restore the moral compass....   [tags: William Shakespeare, plays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1100 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Hamlet's Flaws and Sanity Essay - William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a classic revenge tale. “Hamlet” is well known for the famous soliloquy “To be, or not to be” which I find best to describe Hamlet’s character. Hamlet was given the task to avenge his father’s death. As the story progress Hamlet begins to question his worthiness, questioning his very existence. Hamlet’s emotions influence his every action throughout the story. Hamlet is not the typical hero that readers label; he has many imperfections and displays his own manner of heroism....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature]1084 words
(3.1 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Hamlet by WIlliam Shakespeare Essay - William Shakespeare was a Stratford Grammar School boy, who was a member of the Church of England, similar to just about everyone else in Stratford. However, due to some events that occurred in the Shakespeare family home, there is some evidence that could prove that the family may have had some Roman Catholic connections. When William Shakespeare was 10 years old, legal issues and debt took a toll on his family’s life. Shakespeare’s father’s stopped attending alderman meetings which resulted in the removal of his name to become an alderman, and he was also forced to sell his beautiful home....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Play, Tragedy, Analysis]
:: 5 Works Cited
1044 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about The Role Of Women in Hamlet - The mindset of the unequal genders in the past is thought to have influenced the way playwright William Shakespeare portrayed females in his plays. Shakespeare exemplified this in his revenge tragedy Hamlet, written in 1601 with one of the most significant characters, Gertrude. She is central to the plot due to her relationship with the main character, Hamlet, being his mother. However, not only is she the mother to the tragic hero Hamlet, she is also widow to his laid father, King Hamlet Senior, and also newly wed to Hamlets uncle, Claudius....   [tags: Hamlet Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1076 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare Essay - William Shakespeare's Hamlet is most certainly a tragedy of tragedies. In this masterful piece of literature Shakespeare heaps calamity upon calamity on the stories main protagonist, Hamlet. Not only to Hamlet do these saddening things happen but also to most of the other characters of the story. The tragic nature of this story can obviously be seen in many ways. The main aspects of this work which reveal its nature would be the death of those close to the main character, the hero's tragic flaw, and the final catastrophe which ends the story....   [tags: Death, Flaws, Catastrophe]
:: 1 Works Cited
782 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Topics Deeply Hidden in Hamlet by Williams Shakespeare Essay - There are many topics deeply hidden in the works of William Shakespeare. One of his greatest pieces of works is the story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Not only are the words of Shakespeare meaningful, but there are also many follow up pieces of literature that contain important interpretations of the events in this play. These works about Hamlet are extremely beneficial to the reader. I have found four of these works and will use them as sources throughout this essay. The first source is “The Case of Hamlet’s Conscience,” by Catherine Belsey, and it focuses on the topic of Hamlet’s revenge in the play....   [tags: foils to hamlet, hamlet´s conscience]
:: 1 Works Cited
2200 words
(6.3 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
Essay about Hamlet's Recognition of Love - How would it be possible for Hamlet to express or even recognize love, without having a clear definition of what love is. One may define love as a lover’s passion, devotion or tenderness for someone or something. Hamlet perceives love as an emotion that causes loss, devastation and pain. In the play, Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, the main character uses love as a reason for his actions, but never truly loves any of the characters except his father. Hamlet seems to be more of a love story but, truthfully, it is more of revenge then love....   [tags: Hamlet, Shakespeare]
:: 3 Works Cited
1270 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay - One of the most unique things about the play Hamlet (with Hamlet playing the main character) is the way relationships between the main and lesser characters have not changed from Shakespeare's time period in which he wrote this play to the modern dilemmas of today. The character Hamlet relates through individualism of self to others in the play and Shakespeare uses this confusion of self and nature thus assuring many types of readers who can relate to his Hamlet characterization. Hamlet portrays himself with all his human flaws, but it is this humanity that makes him distinctive from everyone else in the story....   [tags: Hamlet Shakespeare]1879 words
(5.4 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

Hamlet also procrastinates in act two-scene two, line 594 when he convinces himself that his plan to add lines to the play and watch Claudius' reaction, rather than completing his task, is the best plan of action. Although in the end he postpones the murder of Claudius, " like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of [his] cause" (II, 2, 576), Hamlet acknowledges his lack of action. This also shows two main plot points. One that Hamlet does not really want to kill the king and two, that he will go to great lengths to postpone his duty. In fact, Hamlet reveals to us about his unwillingness to kill Claudius early in the play when he says "O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!" (I, 5, 193), meaning that he is angry that he is now put in the position of having to kill the king and he is sorry that he was born with this destiny. Hamlet's procrastination flaw is one that cannot be overlooked due to its serious concern with Hamlet's actions and thought process.
Hamlet's character flaws may be a small factor, but they play a big part in the plot. They show the style in which William Shakespeare writes and the direction in which he was trying to develop the story. The flaws in Hamlet's character were developed rather well in the terms of his tragic life story.

Hamlet as a Complex Tragic Hero

Hamlet is the center of action in the play. This is a play so dominated by one character that Hamlet without the 'Prince is impossible to imagine. The play deals with his suffering and tragic death. The other characters in the play serve as foils to him. Hamlet's tragedy is a particular example of a universal predicament; action is necessary, but action in a fallen world involves us in evil.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

To attempt to shuffle off responsibility by refusing to act, or by shuffling off this mortal coil-by 'handing god back his ticket,' as Dostoevsky puts it involves us equally in guilt.

Like other tragic heroes of Shakespeare, he is also endowed with exceptional qualities like royal birth, graceful and charming personality and popularity among his own countrymen. He is essentially a scholar and a thinker, and his noble brain conceives the finest thoughts. He has a high intellectual quality. He is religious-minded and is very sensitive. In spite of possessing all these higher qualities which rank him above the other characters, but the flaw in his character named as 'tragic flaw' by A.C. Bradley, leads to his downfall and makes him a tragic hero.

The tragic flaw in the character of Hamlet is that he thinks too much and feels too much. He is often disturbed by his own nature of 'self-analysis.' He is forever looking into himself, delving into his own nature to seek an explanation for every action, and giving vent to his own thoughts in soliloquies. Coleridge says that his enormous intellectual activity prevents instant action and the result is delay and irresolution. Bradley gives his own explanation for his delay and irresolution. According to the learned critic, he suffers from melancholia, a pathological state only a step removed from insanity. His thoughts are diseased thoughts. What is required of Hamlet is prompt action, whereas he broods over the moral idealism which leads to his delay in action. When he gets an opportunity to kill Claudius, he puts aside the thought because he cannot strike an enemy while he is at prayer. Again he allows himself to be taken to England, although he knows well that the plan is part and parcel of Claudius's evil intent. Hamlet himself is fully aware of his own irresolution.

There are several causes account for Hamlet's inaction. By nature he is prone to think rather than to act. He is a man of morals and his moral idealism receives a shock when his mother remarries Claudius after his father's death. Chance too plays an important part in shaping his character. Chance places him in such a position in which he is incapable of doing anything. He feels sad at his position and says ''The time is out of joint. 0 cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right.''

He becomes inconsistent and is no longer a person who reaches a conclusion only by reasoning. He cannot quite accept the role that nature has prescribed for him-that of a revenger-and thus he is unable to act quickly.

Like other tragic heroes Hamlet too has to face conflict, both internal and external. The internal conflict is between his moral scruples and the act of revenge, which he is called upon to perform. Love of his father, the dishonor of his mother, and the villainy of his uncle prompt him to take revenge while his nobility, his moral idealism, his principles and his religion revolt against such a brutal act. The result is that, torn within himself, he suffers mental torture.

The external conflict is with Claudius-'the mighty opposer'-and the murderer of Hamlet's father. To Hamlet, Claudius is a smiling, damned villain, a seducer and a usurper of his rights to Denmark's throne; he is one against whom he has to take revenge. The other external conflicts are with Laertes, his friend and the brother of his beloved Ophelia, with Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, his former school fellows and friends but present enemies. Indeed Hamlet succeeds in overcoming his foes, but only at a dreadful cost.

Character is not the only factor that is responsible for the tragedy of Hamlet. External circumstances are also responsible for making Hamlet tragic hero. Shakespeare creates a heeling that there is a mysterious power in this universe, which is responsible for every small -happening. The appearance of the Ghost and its revelation is a manifestation of Fate. Many of the things that take place in Hamlet's life are by chance, but none of these are improbable. He kills Polonius by chance. The ship in which he travels is attacked by pirates, and his return to Denmark is nothing but chance. Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine, by accident, and dies. So fate in the shape of chance shapes the future of all characters including Hamlet. But the sense of fate is never so overwhelming as to cast character in shade; after all, it is Hamlet himself who is responsible for his tragedy.

Hamlet Study Center

Procrastination in Avenging the Murder of Father in Hamlet

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Critical Essay On Hamlets Character Flaws”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *