English 161 H
January 24, 2013
â€œWhy put off today what can be done tomorrow?â€: An Analysis of Hamletâ€™s Hamartia
Hamartia, also known as the tragic flaw, is a shortcoming in character that leads to the downfall of the protagonist of a story. There is a debate on what Hamletâ€™s hamartia is in the Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, but there is one clear answer to the question. Hamletâ€™s tragic flaw is his inability to act and to avenge his fatherâ€™s death which leads him, as well as many others to their bloody graves.
At the beginning of the play, Hamlet promises to act urgently on his desire to avenge his fatherâ€™s death when he meets a ghost that ...view middle of the document...
Instead of acting immediately on his promise to the ghost, he devises a plan to act crazy in hopes that his uncle, Claudius, will not suspect that he has plans to murder him. This has potential to be a good idea, but inevitably is a distraction from his goal of getting revenge on Claudius. If Hamlet had instead immediately killed Claudius, it would have saved a lot of trouble and in the end a lot of lives.
Two months pass, and still Hamlet has yet to kill Claudius. He justifies his procrastination by saying he is making sure that all suspicion from Claudius is lost, but again if he just killed Claudius in the first place, there would be no issue. Waiting these two months is really a waste of time and an example of how Hamlet cannot put his thoughts into actions.
Throughout the play, Hamlet finds it difficult to go through with killing Claudius. He further delays his plans in Act III by putting on a play for the king. The play depicts the murder of a king â€“ who represents Old King Hamlet - by having the actor portraying a kingâ€™s brother â€“ Claudius - pour poison in his ear. Hamlet hopes to get a reaction out of Claudius to prove that he was the one who killed his father, allowing him to finally go through with the murder. The play, which is just an elaborate distraction by Hamlet, continues to enact a scene where the nephew of the murderer kills him by pouring poison in his ear, much like the murderer did to the old king. Claudius runs out of the room screaming, fearing for his life. Hamlet accepts this act as proof that Claudius killed Old King Hamlet, and now feels with confidence that he can go through with his plans and finally kill Claudius.
In formulating this elaborate scheme to act crazy in hopes that Claudius is not suspicious of Hamletâ€™s plans to kill him, Hamlet worsens the situation and puts his efforts to avenge his fatherâ€™s death even further behind schedule. With Hamletâ€™s sanity in question, Claudius and Gertrude decide...