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Tragedy and the Common Man in Hamlet


Katelyn Stoll Professor Hall English 102 11 November 2009 “Disaster and the Commoner” in Hamlet Arthur Miller notes that, “The awful sensation is evoked in us when we remain in the existence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if requirement be, to secure something– his sense of individual self-respect” (1 ). This characteristic seen in a lot of tragedies is definitely evident in the character of Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The moment that Hamlet learns from the ghost that Claudius has actually dedicated regicide, his goal becomes clear: he has to avenge the death of his father by killing his uncle.

Hamlet could not stand idly by while the assassin of his saintly father had an affair with his mother Gertrude and lied to the people of Denmark. Nevertheless, Hamlet’s awful defect prevents him from taking action quickly. Throughout the course of the play, the prince notes that he has yet to perform any action against his uncle Claudius, and he wonders why this is. The character of Hamlet is prone to reasoning and long soliloquies, not action; this, in my viewpoint, is his terrible flaw. The phantom of the late Hamlet informs his kid that Claudius, the current king of Denmark, poisoned him.

Upon hearing the news, Hamlet is infuriated and swears to take revenge against his usurping uncle. Nearly instantly he is ready to set his life to remedy what has been done, and he now has a “… determination to toss all he has into the contest, the fight to protect his rightful place in his world” (3 ). It is at this minute in the play that Hamlet takes on the function of the familiar awful hero and acts appropriately. He was displaced from the life that he knew and liked and was not awarded with his rightful position in society.

Hamlet should be the king of Denmark if what the ghost informed him is true; not just is Hamlet not the king of Denmark, however also his mental health is continuously being brought into question. He is losing ranks in society extremely quickly, and part of Arthur Miller’s definition of the tragic hero is that the hero strives to examine himself justly. His terrible flaw does not permit him to regain his personal dignity, however, and Hamlet ends up being frustrated with time due to the fact that of this. He either takes excessive time thinking whatever through, or he responds impulsively and violently when the circumstance does not require it.

This is seen when Hamlet mistakenly stabs Polonius to death, thinking him to be a spy. His tragic defect is not understanding when or how to act aggressively, and it really costs him in the end. According to Miller, “For, if it is true to say that in essence the awful hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this battle needs to be total and without reservation, then it instantly demonstrates the indestructible will of male to accomplish his mankind” (4 ).

He argues that the tragic play has a lot more to provide the viewer than simply a sad or unfortunate ending. Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet concludes with the deaths of Gertrude, Laertes, Hamlet and Claudius. The point of this play, however, is not that four individuals died, but that Hamlet was finally able to avenge the death of his father. Although this was not an ideal success for Hamlet, he was able to achieve his objectives, and this demonstrates the will of guy (even the common man) to secure his sense of individual self-respect. The thrust for flexibility is the quality in catastrophe which honors” (3 ). The conclusion of Hamlet is both a terrific and depressing one. In one sense, Hamlet is not a terrible hero, since he was able to conquer his terrible flaw and slay Claudius. In another more sensible sense, nevertheless, he perfectly fits the description of the awful hero since he does not live long enough to see the benefits of his actions. Hamlet is never able to assess himself justly, which was his primary objective. In the awful view the requirement of man to completely recognize himself is the only set star, and whatever it is that hedges his nature and reduces it is ripe for attack and assessment” (3 ). Hamlet completely follows the definition of the awful hero of Arthur Miller, since of his requirement to restore his individual self-respect, his awful defect preventing him for achieving this, and an awful ending in which his goals are never ever understood. Works Pointed Out “Disaster and the Commoner by Arthur Miller.” Home Page of TheLiteraryLink, Dr. Janice Patten. Web. 02 Dec. 2009.

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