Sie sind auf Seite 1von 10

Question :

Discuss Hamlet as a typical Shakespearean tragedy.


Answer:
Points to remember :

Introduction
HAMLET AS A TYPICAL SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDY
The following fourteen points are a summation of a typical
Shakespearean tragedy.
1. Tragedy is concerned primarily with one person The
tragic hero.
2. The tragic fate of the hero is often triggered by a tragic
flaw in the heros character. The hero contributes in some
way, shape, or form to the disaster in which he perishes.
3. Shakespeare often introduces abnormal conditions of the
mind (such as insanity, somnambulism, or hallucinations).
4. Supernatural elements are often introduced as well.
5. Besides the outward conflict between individuals or
groups of individuals, there is also an inner conflict(s) and
torment(s) within the soul of the tragic hero.
6. The tragic hero need not be an overwhelmingly good
person, however, it is necessary that he/she should contain
so much greatness that in his/her fall the audience may be
vividly conscious of the individuals potential for further
success, but also the temptation of human nature.
Therefore, a Shakespearean tragedy is never depressing
because the audience can understand where the hero went
wrong.

7. The central impression of the tragedy is one of waste.


Conclusion

INTRODUCTION :
Generally speaking it is commonly said about every Shakespearean tragedy,
"A Shakespearean tragedy is a five act play ending in the death of most of the
major characters." But if we are looking for the essence of Shakespearean
tragedy we must look in an entirely different realm. We cannot merely list the
literary devices used, find the ones common to all of Shakespeare's tragedies,
and call this collection their essence. We recognize tragedy in literature
because we find that it corresponds to a sense of the tragic within us. The
essence of Shakespeare's tragedies is the expression of one of the great
paradoxes of life. We might call it the paradox of disappointment. Defeat,
shattered hopes, and ultimately death face us all as human beings. They are
very real, but somehow we have the intuitive feeling that they are out of place.
They seem to be intruders into life. Tragic literature confronts us afresh with
this paradox and we become fascinated by it. When I am to discuss Hamlet
as a typical Shakespearean tragedy, I would like to note down some essential
and major features of Shakespearean tragedy, and then I will describe their
application in the web of Hamlet.
HAMLET AS A TYPICAL SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDY :
The following fourteen points are a summation of a typical
Shakespearean tragedy.
1. Tragedy is concerned primarily with one person The tragic hero.

Hamlet is the perfect example of the tragic hero. Hamlet has all the good traits
needed to be a tragic hero. He is brave and daring. One example of this is that
when he went to England, he was taking a big risk. If his plan didn't work, he
would have been executed He also is also loyal. His loyalty to his father, was
the reason he was so angry at Claudius and his Mother. Another trait was that
he was intelligent. He was able to think up the idea of faking insanity, in order
to get more information about Claudius. But Hamlet like all other tragic hero's
had a flaw. He couldn't get around to doing anything, because he couldn't
move on. He was a full grown adult, yet he still attended school in England,
because he couldn't move on. Also, it took him a long time to stop grieving
about his father, because he didn't want to move past that part of his life. And
after he finally did, Hamlet couldn't get around to killing Claudius. He kept
pretending he was insane even after he was sure that Claudius killed his father.
The final example of Hamlet's inability to get around to do anything was that
he was dating Ophelia for a long time, but never got around to marrying her.
The audience was able to feel sympathy for Hamlet too. He had just lost his
father, and his mother remarried so quickly that according to him they could
have used the leftover food from the funeral in the wedding reception. Also,
the audience could feel that Hamlet loved his parents and this sudden change
was hurting him.
A tragic hero also must have free will or his fate would be decided for him,
and his death could be avoided. Finally, the audience must have sympathy for
the tragic hero, or it wouldn't seem so tragic.
Hamlet is a perfect example of a tragic hero. He was brave, loyal, and
intelligent, but he couldn't move on past one thing, which led to his death. He
had a choice of how he would deal with Claudius, and like other tragic hero's

made a decision. Also, the audience was able to feel sympathy for the position
Hamlet was in. These attributes made Hamlet the perfect example of a tragic
hero.
The story is essentially one of exceptional suffering and calamity leading to
the death of the hero. The suffering and calamity are, as a rule, unexpected
and contrasted with previous happiness and glory.
Hamlets suffering and misfortune are so extraordinary that his fall causes pit
and terror in us. Hamlet feels deeply agonized at the marriage of his mother.
He is ashamed of the act of his mother. The ghost tells him to take revenge for
the murder of his father. But he is unable to take action and he meets his tragic
death in taking revenge against his uncle Claudius.
The tragic hero must be an exceptional being - a person of high degree or
public importance. His actions and sufferings must be of an unusual kind.
Hamlet is an important person. He is a prince, son of the previous king.
This reversal excites and arouses the emotions of pity and fear within the
audience. The reversal may frighten and awe, making viewers or readers of
the play feel that man is blind and helpless. The audience will regard the
tragic hero as an individual who is up against an overwhelming power that
may treat him well for a short period of time, but will eventually strike him
down in his pride.
2. The tragic fate of the hero is often triggered by a tragic flaw in the
heros character. The hero contributes in some way, shape, or form to
the disaster in which he perishes.

In some ancient tragedies the heros destruction is caused by Fate forces


outside the control of the hero, and so in a sense the hero cant be blamed,
isnt responsible. However, in Shakespeare the hero makes choices that cause
his downfall. Hamlet is conscious of the role of Fate in his life. He wont
allow his friends to keep him away from seeing the ghost: My fate cries out
(Act 1 Scene 4 line 83). Just before the sword fight he seems resigned to what
fate has in store for him:
Theres a divinity that shapes our ends
Rough-hew them how we will
and later Let be
Yet fate doesnt prevent him from killing Claudius when he had a chance
(when Claudius seems to be praying) he chose not to do it.
On the other hand, if he had been less resigned to Fate and more suspicious, he
might not have bee tricked in the sword fight. Fate always seems to take a
hand and restore stability so we have Fortinbras set up to rule Denmark and
presumable restore order. The state isnt left leaderless.
3. Shakespeare often introduces abnormal conditions of the mind (such
as insanity, somnambulism, or hallucinations).
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet's state of mind has spurred out of control,
leading us to believe that he is truly insane. Early on, we can infer
that Hamlet appears distraught over his father's death and his mother's
hasty remarriage. Despite these hardships, Hamlet still appears sane although
he is deeply mourning and even contemplating suicide when he says

"O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,


Thaw, and resolve itself into dew,."
As the play advances, however, Hamlet's sanity diminishes, most noticeably
following the meeting with his father's ghost. Hamlet's run-in with Ophelia is
one of the first indications of his madness. In Act 3, Scene 1, Hamlet lashes
out against Ophelia saying "Get thee {to} a nunnery" and "If thou dost marry,
I'll give thee this plague/for thy dowry." Hamlet's mad behavior is further
displayed during his confrontation with his mother. Upon entering the room,
Hamlet expresses his disgrace in Gertrude, saying
"You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,
And you are my mother."
Following this, Hamlet proceeds to kill Polonius who he had mistaken for the
King. Because he has yet to get revenge, Hamlet's state of mind becomes even
more distorted. Whether he is insane or merely carrying out his father's will is
unclear. However, Hamlet's rash behavior strongly suggests that his father's
death coupled with his failed revenge has driven him to insanity.
4. Supernatural elements are often introduced as well.
The supernatural, is an integral part of the plays of William Shakespeare. In
addition, the supernatural is, in fact, an integral part of the structure of the plot
of Hamlet. The supernatural appears in Hamlet in the form of a ghost.
A ghost appearing in the form of Hamlet's father makes several appearances
during the play. It first appears to the watch men, Marcellus and Bernardo

along with Horatio, at the guardsmen's post. The ghost does not speak to them.
It is not until the appearance of hamlet that the ghost does speak.
The conversation between the ghost and hamlet serves as a catalyst for
Hamlet's last actions and provides us with insights into Hamlet's character.
The information the ghost reveals insights Hamlet into action against a
situation he is already uncomfortable with. It must be noted, that hamlet is not
quick to believe the ghost. He states that maybe he saw a devil that abuses him
due to his melancholy. We are thus subjected to an aspect of Hamlet's
character. Hamlet next encounters the ghost in his mother's room. The ghost
wets hamlets appetite. Hamlet is now convinced of the ghost and listens to
it. The ghost is the guiding force behind hamlet. It asks hamlet to seek
revenge for king Hamlet's death. This propels him into a series of events that
end in his death.
The appearance of the ghost to Hamlet caused him much confusion. He, at
first, regards the ghost as questionable. Hamlet doesn't know if he should
listen to the ghost. If this is the ghost of king Hamlet, then hamlet is obligated
to listen to the ghost. This is the beginning of Hamlet's problems.
5. Besides the outward conflict between individuals or groups of
individuals, there is also an inner conflict(s) and torment(s) within the
soul of the tragic hero.
An individuals response to conditions of internal and external conflict is
explored throughout literature. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare delves into
the themes of appearance versus reality, lies versus deceit, rejection versus self
doubt and tragedy, and in doing so attacks the frivolous state of humanity in
contemporary society. In order to explore these themes, however, he uses

several forms of conflict to project his opinions and expand his ideas relating
to the themes of the play. Internal conflict, as well as external conflict are
dominant features of his works, and in Hamlet are made evident through a
succession of dire events which can attack and destroy someone. However
perhaps the most captivating form of conflict Shakespeare uses to expand and
explore the ideas presented within the text is the conflict between the self and
the universe.
6. The tragic hero need not be an overwhelmingly good person,
however, it is necessary that he/she should contain so much greatness
that in his/her fall the audience may be vividly conscious of the
individuals potential for further success, but also the temptation of
human nature.

Therefore, a Shakespearean tragedy is never

depressing because the audience can understand where the hero went
wrong.
There are probably many different Hamartias exhibited by Hamlet, the one
that seems most obvious would have to be his indecisiveness. Hamlet seems
to have trouble making up his mind about a couple of different dilemmas that
he is faced with.

A good example is his struggle with whether or not he

should kill Claudius.

Hamlet's flaw was that he ruined his life by not

confronting the problem earlier, instead he wanted to obtain proof beyond a


reasonable doubt to justify what he wanted to do to Claudius, and nothing less
would suffice. Hamlet not only wanted to kill Claudius, he wanted to damn
him to hell. However, during his mental battle he wasn't seeing the damage he
was doing to himself. By Feigning madness he almost got himself killed a
few times, he destroyed the relationship he had with his mother, and he sent
Ophelia into a downward spiral of depression that ended with her suicide, and

her suicide led to the final bloodbath at the end which saw nearly everyone
killed. His fake insanity was his indecisiveness in action, he decided to act
insane so he could hide his motives, but other than that he didn't know what he
was going to do.

He didn't have the stomach to ascend the throne by

exposing his uncle and then killing him.

Although he did end up killing

Claudius at the end, it was only because of the madness that went on in the
final scene. Had he not been challenged at the end, I don't believe he would
have killed Claudius, regardless of the evidence he obtained against him.
Claudius' only hamartia is his cold, calculating, evil nature. Claudius causes
his own ruin because of his evil behavior. He murders the queen because he
has a lust for power, and perhaps for Gertrude, he spied on Hamlet and
concocted several plans for his murder. His death would have been avoided if
he didn't have the kind of personality that allows him to kill everyone in the
way of getting what he wants.
7. The central impression of the tragedy is one of waste.
The central impression is one of waste. It is an Aristotelian term used to
describe the pity and fear felt by the audience at the end of the play. These
feelings are united with a profound sense of sadness and mystery in the face of
such waste.
However, at the end, the restoration of stability provides a sense of safe relief.
Also, the state has been purged of evil justice is done, Claudius, the villain,
is dead.
As Hamlet says himself to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

What a piece of work is a man ! How noble in reason! How infinite in


faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like
an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The
paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
CONCLUSION :
William Shakespeares Hamlet conveyed an example of the complex workings
of a persons mind through the main character, Prince Hamlet. Because of the
complex emotions of the character, there are many was to interpret his actions
and thoughts throughout the play. This complexity of Hamlet helps to make
the play very appealing to the audience and therefore remains a popular piece
of work in English Literature. From this viewpoint we must look at the literary
techniques in the plays not as definitive elements of tragedy but as expressions
of it. Thus, hypothetically, someone could discover a long lost Shakespearean
play that could truly be considered a tragedy yet lack any or all of the tragic
devices common to Shakespeare's existing tragedies.
PREPARED BY:
POONAM VALERA
CONTACT NO. 9898679505