Hamlet Tragic Flaw

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 701
Topics: Book, Hamlet, William Shakespeare

It is essential to be smart to maintain a balance between intellect and emotions, because intellect leads to reasonable decisions, while emotions frequently lead to unreasonable ones. Hamlet in Shakespeare’s drama is famous as a tragic figure because he aspired to greatness, but his downfall was the consequence of his personal flaw — excessive pondering and over-complication of every single situation and failure to take action in the most urgent times.

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Idealism as Hamlet’s tragic flaw

Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his failure to avenge his father’s death because he could not defeat himself in his internal confrontation. This is strikingly similar to the expression — “The greatest enemy of man is the man himself”. In my opinion, procrastination represents the driving force that brings about Hamlet’s downfall, and there are three fundamental flaws underlying procrastination: idealism, fatalism, and over-analytical thinking. To begin with, idealism prevents Hamlet from taking revenge for his father’s murder when he has the chance to murder Claudius (his uncle, his father’s slayer) while he is in the middle of prayer. This is where Hamlet desires the most ideal vengeance so that his antagonist will be damned to hell.

Because Claudius is in prayer, it is impossible for Hamlet to slaughter him because of his conviction that Claudius’s soul will be blessed and go to paradise, so he chooses to slay Claudius at a more opportune time just like his father (King Hamlet) was murdered. The moment of Claudius’s supplication is the only time during the entire plot when he is unguarded and completely alone, which means that Hamlet missed the biggest possible opportunity to murder Claudius only because he had to gain the right chance. Ultimately, Hamlet’s idealism makes him procrastinate.

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Fatalism as Hamlet’s tragic flaw

In addition to idealism, Hamlet’s fatalism also serves as his tragic flaw that eventually results in his downfall. Hamlet displays evidence of fatalism by remarking in 1.4.29: “cannot choose his own origin”. In his view, a man cannot be accused of reflecting a wicked character or a natural flaw that he was born with, because it is not in his power to decide where he originated from (1.4.27-28). Besides, Hamlet notes that the majority of people would prefer to bear the diseases that we have rather than fly to others that we do not know about: 3.1.89-90. Because he prefers to endure the tortures of the destiny, he believes in, he is unwilling to change. As a consequence, Hamlet does absolutely nothing.

Furthermore, before dueling with Laertes, Horatio questions Hamlet if he would like to cancel the duel, allowing him to know that the King may have prepared some plan for him. However, Hamlet responds: 5.2.210-11: “There’s a special providence in the fall of sparrow”. Being a believer in predetermination, Hamlet falls into Claudius’ snare even though he is aware of it, because the prince considers that if he is fated to die, he will die, and he discovers no way out of it. In this way fatalism turns fatal for Hamlet.

Over-analytical thinking as Hamlet’s tragic flaw

Finally, Hamlet’s most significant tragic flaw is his over-analytical nature. He describes it as: “craven scruple Of thinking too precisely” in 4.4.42-43. Later in the same conversation in 4.4.44-46, he states that “which quarter has but one part wisdom and three parts coward”. We see that the prince himself criticizes his own indecision and excessive reflection. Analyzing the given situation and being prudent is wise, but excessive caution makes Hamlet regard himself as a coward. Because of this tragic flaw, Hamlet is prevented from performing drastic decisions. Reviewing so many various alternatives and perspectives, Hamlet constantly discovers an opportunity to procrastinate. He is overtaken by nothing but frustration. As a consequence, he is passively drawn into the series of events developing in the play that result in his demise.


Summarizing the mentioned points, we can accurately determine that no matter how brave and sophisticated Hamlet is, he experiences a tragic downfall that eventually results in a tragic flaw. At the end of the play, as he ultimately resolves to initiate some action, it becomes extremely late. In the executive summary, Hamlet’s flaws exemplify the frailty of humanity, in particular those with an extraordinary or intellectual inclination, as he himself was.

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