What is a Tragic Flaw?

Tragic flaw in the Hamlet by Shakespeare is a very famous literary dilemma. Many of the crticis have been explaining it since years.

Before knowing about it in text, it is crucial to know about this term. A tragic flaw is the feature of a tragic hero that leads him to his collapse. According to Aristotle, the downfall of hero occurs due to an error of judgment. The recognition of this tragic flaw and its after math comes to the hero when the time has taken its turn.

Tragic flaw in the Hamlet by Shakespeare

Hamlet’s most visible tragic flaw throughout the play is his inconclusiveness. It is where he is all the time incapable of taking the decision about his next step.

Inability to act

There are a number of incidents occurring in the play, which proves us the Hamlet’s attribute of inability to act. Hamlet’s very famous words of “To be or not to be” are the major example as a tragic hero. He is contemplating his decision to commit suicide or not that turns out to be abandoning the idea. Hamlet thinks that suicide is forbidden in Christianity and this fear stops him. Likewise, he is confused about taking revenge for his father’s death or kills himself. In result, fear stops him and he does nothing.

During the play

At another point, Hamlet stages an entire play to become sure that Claudius is guilty of this father’s murder. He was unsure whether the ghost was real and if he was real, then was it telling the truth or not. “The play is the thing wherein I will catch the conscience of

the King”. Even through the guilt of Claudius becomes visible when he asked to stop the play at the murder scene. Hamlet continues to hold up the murder at that time. Hamlet wants to kill everyone after analyzing each side of the story. Despite knowing it directly from the real ghost of his father.

Hamlet, the patient of Aboulumania

Hamlet’s condition of poor decision making is called Aboulumania. It is the mental disarray that cause the patient to not take any decision. The Aboulumania’s symptoms can easily be in the nature of Hamlet when he is unable to take revenge instead just talk think about. Living in his own thoughts resulted in many soliloquys in the play as well. There, he is only expressing his thoughts and not acting upon them.

Revenge from his mother

Tragic flaw in the Hamlet by Shakespeare is present when Hamlet decides to take revenge from his mother, he went to confront her. Having all made up his mind, he ended up on asking her to repent against the marriage that she made with her brother in law, Claudius. Hamlet was in the situation where he wanted to kill Gertrude because of her misdeed with his father, but again he could not. This condition also proves the uncertain mental state of Hamlet.

Revenge from Claudius

The opportunity to take revenge of his father’s murder is not complete. This is because Hamlet had several other chances to kill Claudius and give peace to his father’s soul. We already know that Hamlet has this flaw of indecisiveness that he spent most of his time in thinking instead of working on those thoughts. Hamlet lost the probability of assassinating Claudius at one more point while he was offering prayer. “Hire and salary, not revenge” is what that Hamlet thought. He again spent his time thinking that Claudius might go to heaven if I kill him during prayers that  he would never want to. He further thinks that if he kills Claudius in this condition, then Claudius will get purged of his sins and go to heaven.
Now, if Hamlet would have killed Claudius while praying, then his revenge would be completed because Claudius was only acting to pray. Yet again, Hamlet lost the prospect of murdering the King Claudius and finalizing the vengeance of his father’s murder.

It is quite evident throughout the play that Hamlet is suffering from some serious lack of decision making capability or we could say that this indecisiveness is the tragic flaw of Hamlet. He weighs upon to take the action or not and in the end, he lost his own life.

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