Hamlet’s Tragic Flaw (Hamartia)
Shakespeare is undoubtedly a great literary figure of his time. His contribution to theater and other literary terms is excellent and unforgettable. It is useless to criticize that person. Christopher Marlowe, one of the university witnesses, gave few dramas to the time but enriched it with such a literary term. His dramas are watched and read with great curiosity around the world. His work has not only earned him a reputation, but has also made his name immortal. He wrote a total of 37 plays in his life, all of which can be classified as tragedy, comedy, or history.
Before discussing Hamlet’s tragic flaw or hamartia, it is better to know something about the word ‘hamartia’ that Aristotle uses in his work, ‘La poética’. According to him, the tragic hero is not perfect, and misfortune falls on him through some fault of his own. Aristotle uses the Greek word ‘Hamartia’. Its fundamental meaning is “to miss the mark”. AC Bradley translates it as ‘tragic flaw’. Aristotle uses it, “error of judgment.” Hamartia is not a moral imperfection but an error of judgment, whether it arises from the ignorance of some material fact or from the recklessness and impulsiveness of temperament or from some passion. The hero makes several serial mistakes that seem unfamiliar to him. At last, they create a very strange situation that leads the hero to his catastrophe.
Hamlet, a prince of Denmark, is a well-educated and understanding person. He is morally a good person and above all loved by all, despite this, he is not a saint or a perfect man. Other than that, he cannot be called a villain because he does not perform such an action that can prove him as a villain. It is his love for his parents that becomes the cause of his catastrophe, but he is unaware of the mistakes he makes in love. Aristotle speaks of an intermediate person who makes mistakes without knowing it. In addition, it speaks of the rush in action and light temperament as the main weapons of hamartia, leading the hero to catastrophe. Hamlet doesn’t seem short-tempered, but he’s very suitable for Othello. Without a doubt, Hamlet is a tragic hero; he makes mistakes that become the cause of his tragedy. If Othello had been in Hamlet’s place, there would have been no tragedy. It is the skill of the playwright that moves the hero in such a way that he can face his tragedy by making tragic mistakes.
Hamlet makes a series of mistakes that become the cause of his tragedy. Jan Knott says that Hamlet is like Swiss cheese with all the holes in it. In its character, irresolution is a dominant factor and gives rise to delay. It occurs because of his childish mood. In fact, a man possesses a very strange disposition, and a man who owns a childlike nature never thinks of harming others. It is the same condition with Hamlet that arouses pity and fear among the audience.
Throughout the drama, Hamlet finds himself in pain. Her pain is her mother’s hasty marriage to her uncle Claudio. He hides his love for his mother and reveals his sheer immaturity. Although he is a prince, he does not enjoy his status but wants to move the country in the footsteps of his father. Furthermore, when he learns the cause of his father’s murder, his grief is doubled and he leaves the other affairs of the kingdom. Their encroachment on their inner conflict diminishes sympathy for others. He wants revenge on his father; He must come out of pain and strike the enemy with a deadly blow. Other than that, he is not helpless or weak; You can do anything, but check your responsibility for your action beforehand.
In this drama, the author stages a play within a play. Hamlet wants to make sure if his uncle Claudius is the murderer or not. His staging drama for this purpose was equal to making the enemy aware of his crime and plan. The enemy is smart; take quick steps to repel him or to harm his life. It is found out that Claudio is the true murderer of his father, he pushes him back to pain and thinks of his mother. Such a step made the enemy stronger but him weaker. His soliloquy, in which he calls women fragile, creates doubts about his mother as an accessory to the murder. Your complaint continues and you cannot get rid of it. When Hamlet watches the drama he is preparing, he becomes very moved by the player’s emotional speech. In the second soliloquy, he calls himself a rogue and peasant slave and a bored and muddy rascal who, like a Juan-a-dream, cannot act. In fact, he is beset by self-loathing. That he becomes fierce and condemns himself means that he is determined to take measurable action to avenge his father’s death. This grievance enhances your internal and external conflict.
Hamlet is not a successful lover. Shakespeare avoids falling him into the hell of love, and it might be childish. Hence his love leans towards his mother who shows the Oedipus complex. This love was perceived as more apt for his tragedy. Without a doubt, he loves Ophelia and he likes her too. He, hastily or without any conformation, kills her father, and she loses consciousness. She depended on him to support her, but he always thought of her mother. Finally, she died drowned in the river. When he returns from the clutches of the pirates, he sees the rite of his burial. There he regrets this accident. Their participation aggravates Laertes’ anger and increases his fire of revenge.
She was innocent and immature in love. It was Hamlet who raised her feelings of love and she began to move down the unknown path of love. Hamlet did not fully introduce her to love. He left her in the desert alone and dejected. When his father was killed, he was a great threat to his life. If he had fallen completely in love with Hamlet, he would not have committed suicide. Most of Shakespeare’s tragedies emphasize the heroine’s love, but here it is different because the mother’s love is emphasized. If she had been alive and meaningful, there would have been great resistance in the hero’s tragedy. She could have supported Hamlet, and Claudius would have failed in his dueling conspiracy between Hamlet and Laertes. Shakespeare does not let Hamlet taste maiden love.
His soliloquies delve into his inner conflict. He finds Claudio busy in worship, and it was the best opportunity for revenge, but he finds himself in a dilemma. Here Shakespeare introduces his popular soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’. It means that I should kill him or not. If he killed him in this condition, he would go straight to heaven. Decide not to kill him. It shows your religious belief and the fear that child feels in the dark. Also, it shows your disability. Check out your first step toward procrastination. He declares that it is the conscience that resists him from the action and that is why irresolution enters his actions. Put on a drama to find the killer’s reaction and passion. Claudio becomes suspicious and delegates Polonio as a spy. When he was chatting with his mother, he would hide behind the curtain to listen to her secret. Hamlet sensed that there was someone there and realized that it could be Claudio. Without any proof, he, disgusted, killed him. Claudio was looking for such hasty action. He had the opportunity to plot against him. He benefits from his flaw and sends him abroad with a cruel plan.
His fourth soliloquy also shows his indecision. Here he observes the efforts and bravery of Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, and then compares him to himself. He tries to revive his own desire for revenge against Claudio for the death of his father. Hamlet condemns himself lethargic because he does not think too precisely about an event, although he has cause, will, strength, and means to avenge himself. Other than that, he has proof that Claudio is his father’s murderer. Hamlet finally decides that he must take action against Claudius in some way. Here he himself feels that he is a prey to the procrastination that has happened due to irresolution.
His murder of Polonius is very strange. His soliloquies are proof of his delay in action. When he kills Polonio, he doesn’t check to see if it’s Claudio or someone else. It is his haste or infantilism, and he appeals to Aristotle’s rule of the concept of hamartia. Such immaturity turns the whole environment against him. He loses his love, he falls out with Laertes and the king. He is alone and it is easy for enemies to chase him. Laertes is his powerful enemy who is under the spell of Claudio. He makes two plans to kill him. The first thing is to offer a poisonous cup before the duel, if he avoided taking it, he would be prey to the poison sword of Laertes.
His mission was to get revenge on his father and save his mother. He couldn’t save his mother. His indecisive quest for revenge for his father’s death confirms his greatest and tragic flaw. As a result, he can avenge his father’s death in his own death. He was a good person, and his devotion and struggle arouses pity and fear for him among readers. Hamlet’s indecision is evident in his actions after seeing the emotion of the actors, after his third soliloquy, in his fourth soliloquy, and in his indecisive search for revenge for the death of his father. Hamlet was able to avenge his father’s death, but his own death due to his indecision labels him a tragic hero.
As a result, it is obvious that Hamlet is not a fiery person. He seems lethargic in action, although he has it all. His delay inflicting his personality, but his death or tragedy restores his position. Even Fortinbras feels sorry for him. It really is a great tragedy of a great tragic hero.