Tragic Hero and Revenge in Hamlet

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Hamlet is a tragic hero because he has classically “noble” motivations to punish the man who murdered his father, and in the end of the story his situation has become so ridiculous that the only way to end the story would be to end his life. Like many “heros”, Hamlet is not alive at the end of the story so he cannot see the grand finale that has been caused by his actions. Hamlet has many failures attributed to his character, but his power and connection with words make up his tragic defect. Hamlet’s best feature is his language, and throughout the story he uses brilliant words and shifts between prose and verse constantly keeping the reader (or viewer) on their toes. The power behind words and language are a key factor in the play, because in one way or another all of the characters are affected by words spoken in the play. The sense of reality behind the play and each of its characters is also molded by the relationship between words and language as well, mostly for “tragic purposes”. Shakespeare demonstrates the power of language when he uses a metaphor when King Hamlet’s ghost declares that Claudius has poisoned ‘all of Denmark’s ear’ with his words. These words will boost the action of the play. For example, it is Hamlet’s words not his actions that lead Opherilia to commit suicide. Like many of the other men in the play, he scolds her like she is a child, saying that Ophelia should enter a convent of nuns instead of becoming a ‘breeder of sinners’. He could have ignored Ophelia or simply brushed past her yet he chose to use his words to inflict pain and contribute to the image of him as a madman.

Hamlet fully understands his ability with words and language and uses his skill to achieve what he wants. Hamlet’s exchanges with Ophelia are one example of how he uses his prowess. At one point, Hamlet recognizes his power with words and tells the audience, as if he recognized that this is his tragic flaw: ‘I will speak daggers, but do not use any’ . The idea that words are equal to weapons is a central idea in this text and it also shows how Hamlet’s belief in the power of language makes others believe it too, especially those that are full of words, but that only they speak hollow sentences like Claudius, who makes the statement while saying that ‘my words fly, my thoughts remain below’. The main idea from this quote is that Claudius talks a lot, but the words he’s using are devout of meaning, even when he is talking to God (something that could be considered a sin). As the play continues, the reader or viewer realizes that the power of words is very strong especially to main characters like Ophelia and Hamlet.

Hamlet’s usage of powerful language does not always benefit him, and because of his sad nature Hamlet often argues with himself to try and understand what is happening in reality, of which he has very little control. Hamlet’s famous soliloquy ‘to be or not to be’ questions the injustice of death over life thinking in moral terms as well as discussing the possible reasons for death and life. When Hamlet says the question ‘To be or not to be: that is the question … If it is more noble in the mind to suffer … The slings and arrows of the scandalous fortune … Or take up arms against a sea of ​​trouble’, there is little doubt that he is thinking about death. Although Hamlet tries to frame the line as a question about whether the ‘ slings and arrows of scandalous fortune may be out since life after death is so uncertain”, there is no true answer, and this rhetorical question makes him seem like a sad and tragic man. Throughout the entire play, the language and words Hamlet use have an immense power over the ending of the play. Hamlet play culminates with ‘poison in the ear’ and the destructive words and language that follows. For Hamlet, it was his words, his greatest weapon that indirectly cause his downfall.

The tragedy and the situation of Hamlet himself allow him to become a universally recognized character. Hamlet is so universally recognized because we can see each other inside him. Many of us will never experience the seriousness of the situation that Hamlet dealt with, however, we can all relate (some of us) to the introspective ideas that Shakespeare presents through Hamlet himself. This is a typical revenge story, but in it Hamlet asks deep questions about what it means to be a human being, which is why most people know who Hamlet is. We have the famous ‘To be or not to be a speech’ by Hamlet, and within him Hamlet questions life, death and fear of the next life, something that most of us can relate to. Like humans, Hamlet is a relatively flawed character, full of doubts and fear.

Hamlet’s dual nature reminds us of our teenage years and allows us to empathize with their situation. He is sensitive, poetic, loving and conflicting, but he also treats his girlfriend badly and has no regrets for killing Polonius, a somewhat innocent man. Hamlet makes us question our own beliefs, and it is so ambiguous that there is no true ‘correct’ answer on how to interpret his character. Hamlet is much more than revenge, which is when he is recognized, asks big questions like what is death, the truth, and what does death matter? How do we live knowing that we are going to die? He asks us what kind of person we want to be, something we will all ask ourselves in life. 


Read more