Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Great Tragedy

Hamlet is a revenge tragedy written in the line of Roman Senecan tragedy. It is the tragedy of reflection and moral sensitivity. The protagonist is very reflective and too sensitive, thus unfit for taking revenge through action. He has to undo the past, but the paradox of guilt and justice baffles him.

William Shakespeare

The soliloquies of Hamlet help to bring out his complex mental state. When the play ends all the major characters are dead making the tragedy an absolute one.

Hamlet's father has been murdered by his uncle and his mother marries the criminal after her husband's death. As suggested by the ghost Hamlet has to take revenge on his father's murderer. As he is a person with a high degree of moral sensitivity and a philosophic bent of mind, he thinks about whether evil can undo evil and not remain evil. He wants to find out whether the ghost has told the truth or not. He thinks too much and cannot go into action without which revenge cannot be taken and the tragedy occurs. The soliloquies are given to him to help reveal his complex psychological state. It's the tragedy of moral frustration. The tension between Hamlet's need for revenge and the question of morality, guilt, justice as well as his uncle and mother's position is vividly dramatized. Inaction is the major tragic flaw which hastens his tragic downfall. Had Hamlet been Othello the tragedy wouldn't have occurred. His philosophical soliloquies make it a poetic play rather than a realistic one. Ophelia, her father and brother die primarily because of Claudius's conspiracy and Hamlet's impulsiveness. Though the conspirator is killed many other innocent people lose their lives. It is a great disintegration. Since all the characters die at the end of the play the throne has to be given to a foreigner. It is an absolute tragedy in a way. The horror, violence and bloodshed on the stage create a kind of unnerving scene. The readers cannot help feeling pity and fear for what has happened.

Hamlet Study Center

Procrastination in Avenging the Murder of Father in Hamlet