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Hamlet as Tragic Hero Essay

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Hamlet, the titled character of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare’s most prominent play, is arguably the most complex, relatable, and deep character created by Shakespeare. His actions and thoughts throughout the play show the audience how fully developed and unpredictable he is with his mixed personalities. What Hamlet goes through in the play defines the adventures encountered by a tragic hero. In this timeless tragedy, despite Hamlet’s great nobility and knowledge, he has a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his ironic death.
The conception of this character dates back to as early as the 13th century. The first story that Hamlet’s tale can be traced back to is Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum (“History of the Danes”). Many of the earlier Hamlet story elements are interwoven in Vita Amlethi (“The Life of Amleth”), part of Gesta Danorum (Mabillard). Some of the strong similarities between the two legends are the mother’s hasty marriage to the brother of the murdered king, the prince pretending to be insane, the prince killing a hidden spy, and the prince substituting the execution of two retainers for his own. The story was later further developed and translated in 1570 by François de Belleforest and titled Histoires tragiques. Belleforest embellished much of Saxo’s writings and pioneered the hero’s melancholy
Aristotle defines a literary tragedy as a story that “presents courageous individuals who confront powerful forces within or outside themselves with a dignity that reveals the breadth and depth of the human spirit in the face of failure, defeat, and even death” (Brainstorm Services). Hamlet’s character undergoes many of these trials and tribulations that make him a tragic hero. In order to meet the criter...


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...a hero because he is, as everyone is, at once both confused and enticed by endless dilemmas that come from being, in the end, merely human.



Works Cited

Brainstorm Services. Aristotle's Tragic Hero. 25 September 2001. 6 December 2007 .

Charters, Ann and Samuel Charters. "William Shakespeare." Charters, Ann and Samuel Charters. Literature and Its Writers. 4th Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007. 1247-1251.

Cliffs Notes. "Character Analyses: Hamlet." 2001. Cliffs Notes. 6 December 2007 .

Mabillard, Amanda. "An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sources for Hamlet." 2000. Shakespeare Online. 6 December 2007 .

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. 1600.


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Hamlet as Tragic Hero Essay - Hamlet, the titled character of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare’s most prominent play, is arguably the most complex, relatable, and deep character created by Shakespeare. His actions and thoughts throughout the play show the audience how fully developed and unpredictable he is with his mixed personalities. What Hamlet goes through in the play defines the adventures encountered by a tragic hero. In this timeless tragedy, despite Hamlet’s great nobility and knowledge, he has a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his ironic death....   [tags: Hamlet, Shakespeare]
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