Hamlet And Tragedy Essay, Research Paper
April 20, 2001
Hamlet: A Tragedy
When you think of William Shakespeare, Hamlet is the first thing most people think of, as his work. Hamlet is also a classic example of a tragedy. In all tragedies the hero suffers, and usually dies at the end. All good pieces of literature written way back when, are usually tragedies.
The most important element is the amount of free will the character has. In every tragedy, the character must display free will. If every action is controlled by a hero’s destiny, then the hero’s death can’t be avoided, and in a tragedy the sad part is that it could. Hamlet’s death could have been avoided many times. Hamlet had many opportunities to kill Claudius, but did not take advantage of them. He also had the option of making his claim public, but instead he chose not too. In Hamlet, although Hamlet dies, it is almost for the best. His life was not worth living anymore, with his parents and Ophelia dead. Also, although Hamlet dies, he is able to kill Claudius and get rid of the evil on the throne. This is another key thing a tragedy must have.
Every tragic play must have a tragic hero. The tragic hero must possess many good traits, as well as one flaw, which eventually leads to his downfall. A tragic hero
must be brave and noble. Hamlet is the perfect example of the tragic hero. Hamlet has all the good traits needed to be a tragic hero. He is brave and daring. One example of this is that when he went to England, he was taking a big risk and knew they were out to kill him. His loyalty to his father, was the reason he was so angry with Claudius and his Mother.
Eric Bentley said that a Tragedy is dependent on comedy. Comic relief is used in tragedies to change the atmosphere of the reader, who is constantly focusing on the death and corruption of a tragedy. If a play were full of the death and sorrow, as in tragedies, it would make the reader very depressed and not like the play. Some examples of this in Hamlet, are in the Gravedigger Scene, Talking to the Skull and the Throwing of the book.
Towards the end of the play, there are two scenes in the graveyard. One is when Hamlet picks up a skull, and the gravedigger tells him that the skull belonged to Yorick, the old king’s jester. Hamlet tells Horatio that he knew Yorick, and then realizes what we all become after we die, dust. He then plays with the idea of life and death, and describes the finality of it. The gravedigger scene is the tragic conclusion of the play. The second scene of comedy in this scene is when the gravediggers argue whether Ophelia should be allowed to be buried in the cemetery, because her death was more of a suicide, and suicides may not receive a Christian burial. The first gravedigger asks the second gravedigger a riddle. The second gravedigger answers that it must be the gallows-maker, for his frame outlasts a thousand tenants. The first gravedigger corrects him, because he did not answer correctly.