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Essay about Hamlet's Fatal Flaw

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Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an interesting play in many ways. The character Hamlet is particularly intriguing in regards to his fatal flaw. Hamlet’s fatal flaw is a specific trait that forces him to postpone killing the king and it is this trait that drives Hamlet mad (Shakespeare 1.4.23-38). This Shakespearean tragedy is open to many interpretations of Hamlet’s fatal flaw. Two recent film productions of the play, Kenneth Branaugh’s Hamlet and the Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, each show a different fatal flaw in Hamlet. Branaugh shows his fatal flaw to be that Hamlet over thinks everything. Zeffirelli accentuates the Oepipus Complex in Hamlet meaning that Hamlet is jealous over his mother. Branaugh and Zeffirelli both use different methods to illustrate their interpretations.
There are many opinions as to what Hamlet’s fatal flaw is. One opinion is that Hamlet is that Hamlet over thinks everything. This is readily apparent and evidence for it can be found in several places. The issue of the ghost’s appearance is extremely disturbing to Hamlet who is still grieving over the loss of his father (Shakespeare 1.2.170-258). Hamlet and Horatio, the figure of wisdom in the play, worry that the ghost could really be an evil spirit sent to tempt or kill Hamlet (Shakespeare 1.4.39-92). In trying to figure everything out Hamlet says that “conscience does make cowards of us all” (Shakespeare 3.1. 83). Another view is the Oedipus complex in which Hamlet is primarily concerned about his mother’s infidelity, for example he mentions his mother’s adultery before his father’s murder (Shakespeare 1.4.105-106). Ophelia’s rejection of him seems to mirror his mother’s rejection of his father and it is what finally drives him insane (Shakespeare 3. 1. 88-164). Ha...


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...Culture 29.2 (June 1968): 142-149. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Dana Ramel Barnes. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.

Foster, Edward E. "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." Masterplots. Rev. 2nd ed. Salem Press, 1996. MagillOnLiterature Plus. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.

Hamlet. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. 1990. Warner Brothers, 2004. DVD.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark With New and Updated Critical Essays and a Revised Bibliography. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Signet Classics, 1998. Print.

Sloboda, Noel. "Visions and Revisions of Laurence Olivier in the Hamlet Films of Franco Zeffirelli and Kenneth Branagh." Studies in the Humanities 27.2 (2000): 140+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. 1996. Warner Brothers, 2007. DVD.


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