The classic Tragic Hero “A hero is a man who does what he can. ” Romain Rolland What is a tragic hero? Are tragic heroes considered to have better qualities, and yet suffer from the many shortcomings of life? I believe that a classic tragic hero is a person that has many excellent qualities for a hero, and yet dies due to the mistakes that he makes. As Romain said, “A hero is a man who does what he can” and Hamlet is a perfect example on how he had to give up everything to commit to his revenge.
This is why I believe Hamlet is the perfect classic tragic hero, because although he did not do anything that was wrong, he still suffered and died because of his characteristics. This is why I believe that the seven soliloquies of Hamlet, show the progression of his characteristics, and show the multiple qualities of a hero, thus making him a perfect example of a classic tragic hero.
The first soliloquy in Hamlet (Act I, Scene II), talks about the suffering that Hamlet is going through as he realizes that his father is dead and his mother has married his uncle. But two months dead! — nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr;” (I. II. 137-140) Hamlet doesn’t get why his mother married so fast and gets extremely mad about that. He wonders if she even loved his father and this causes his to think about suicide, but back in the Elizabethan era, suicide was looked down upon, which is seen in Act I, Scene II, Line 132-133.
“…His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! ”
This is the only reason why Hamlet can’t kill himself. Hamlet felt that he was the only one that thought that this marriage was an unnatural and starts to dislikes Claudius. Back in the day, women were not allowed to marry after their husbands died, so when Gertrude marries Claudius, Hamlet feels that something weird was going on. “Would have mourn’d longer…dexterity to incestuous sheets! ” (I. II. 151-157) I think that he felt that his mother only married Claudius so that she wasn’t alone at nights and so that she could still remain queen over Denmark.
He also doesn’t think Claudius can compare to his dad and a beginning of hatred and disgust rises within Hamlet for both Gertrude and Claudius. The first soliloquy also shows the multiple good qualities that develop Hamlet as the play goes on. “It is not, nor it cannot come to good; But break my heart, — for I must hold my tongue! ”(I. II. 158-159) This is the first main quality that Hamlet, he knows when to speak his mind and only talks about his true self with only people he trusts like Horatio, and yet that might be the reason he was able to kill Claudius in the end, it also the reason why Ophelia and Gertrude died too.
Since Ophelia died because she felt that Hamlet didn’t love her the way she did to him. His mother thought that Hamlet was really mad, and tried to help him in many a way, one of them was to drink the cup that would promote Hamlets health but which was actually poisoned. This is how the first soliloquy helps in developing his characteristics while showing his true qualities. The second soliloquy(Act 1, Scene 5) in Hamlet which takes place in Act I, Scene V, which when the ghost of his father tells him that he was murdered, and how he was murdered and, who killed him.
He doesn’t believe that his father was murdered by Claudius when he says, “O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else? And shall I couple hell? O, fie! — Hold, my heart ;”( I. V. 92-93) He never thought that Claudius would commit murder to get the throne of Denmark, and he understands why he and his mother married so fast. “O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! ”(I. V. 105-106) This is the beginning of his hatred towards Claudius, and this is also where he swears to the ghost to kill Claudius. Hamlet also feels confused when this unnatural act of nature happens.
He knows that there is a chance that this ghost is either his father or the devil trying to make Hamlet commit a sin. This “ghost” also sparks a need to connect once again with his father as he continually keeps saying “Remember thee? ” This shows that Hamlet misses his dad a lot, and is willing to do anything to allow King Hamlet rest in peace. This soliloquy furthermore brings out qualities in Hamlet that we have never seen faithfulness and also being honour bound. The perfect in this soliloquy that shows this is, “So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word; It is ‘Adieu, adieu! emember me. ‘ I have sworn’t. ” (I. V. 111-112). Hamlet feels that unless he swears to the ghost, he won’t find the motivation to kill Claudius. This also shows that he was faithful to his father ghost, even though he knew there was a chance it was actually the devil trying to trick him into committing a sin. In the third Soliloquy (Act 2, Scene 2), is quite a long soliloquy as he realizes that both his mother and Claudius had sent his two best friends to spy on him, and betraying him. This is also the same soliloquy where he plans and prepares for Claudius’s downfall.
This is where the story of Hamlet truly begins and the introduction to Hamlet’s inner feelings. This is the first time Hamlet actually tell the audience what he feels inside, and what he will plan to do in the future. This soliloquy also reveals his inner fear on whether the ghost was the devil, seen in line 585 to 590 in Act II, Scene II- “… The spirit that I have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy, — As he is very potent with such spirits, — Abuses me to damn me…”
Hamlet starts to doubt if the ghost was even his father, and if this is the case he needs to get more proof that Claudius killed his father, and then realizes that the actors were his tools to catch Claudius. I think that Hamlet felt that if Claudius had a reaction to the play in a manner that was ‘weird’ it would he knew that the ghost had told the truth. This soliloquy furthermore shows how restless Hamlet is as he wants to complete his vow to the ghost and kill his uncle. This is seen, “Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words And fall a-cursing like a very drab” (II.
II. 571-573). He is angry and impatient that something as easy as killing as a person is so tough. I think that Hamlet, at this point doesn’t want to use words, and instead thinks that actions is the only thing that will help get him to his goals. This is why he uses the actors to re-enact, “The murder of Gonzago” which was similar to how Claudius killed the King. The one main quality that I found in the soliloquy, and throughout the book, Hamlet, is the fact that he thinks logically and doesn’t try to rush into things too fast. An example in this soliloquy is, “…I’ll have grounds, more relative than this. the play’s the thing, Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (II. II. 590-592). He thinks that the devil might be trying to fool him and he needed more proof that his uncle murdered King Hamlet. The fourth soliloquy (Act 3, Scene 1) is the most acknowledged soliloquy to the world, “To be or not to be”. This is where Hamlet talks about life and death, and although we know Hamlet is thinking about death, he says, “But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover’d country from whose bourn, No traveler returns, puzzles the will” (III. I. 78-80).
This means that he is worried on what happens after he dies, and the fact that “afterlife” hasn’t been proven, he is scared to kill himself. At this point he starts arguing with himself on what happens after death and talks about the multiple trouble and pains of life. Then he realizes that since there is no proof that life after death exists, he might as well continue with his revenge. I believe that this soliloquy is also hints about whether he should continue with his revenge or not. This “indecision” within Hamlet is what causes the most amount of problems in the book, Hamlet, and with Hamlet himself.
This soliloquy doesn’t particularly show any qualities within Hamlet, but one quality that I saw really made me realize how great Hamlet was, was the fact that no matter how he felt, he didn’t give up or deter from his path of revenge, making him a extremely faithful son to the king. The fifth soliloquy (Act 3, Scene 3) is before the play has its climax, before Hamlet talks to his mother and unknowingly kills Polonius. Hamlet is extremely mad with his mother, and wants to hurt her emotionally.
He still thinks that she married Claudius so that her nights wouldn’t be lonely. He was so angry with her that he could have killed her, but he instead says, “Let me be cruel, not unnatural” (III. III. 379), which meant that he would be rude to her but, not commit a sin by killing her. “I will speak daggers to her, but use none” (III. III. 380). This meant that he felt that he needed to speak severely for what she did, but not physically hurt her. This soliloquy shows one main characteristic of a hero within Hamlet, which was not to harm women. Hamlet ad every right to physically hurt Gertrude for how she disgraced her gender, but he refrained from raising his hands as he felt as though it would be “unnatural”. The fact that he didn’t lose control till now, over what Gertrude did, shows how noble he is and how he still follows the rules of his era, even though his mother didn’t. This is my most favorite quality of Hamlet, and because of this, Gertrude drank to his health, which caused her death. The sixth soliloquy is Act III, Scene III, lines 73-96 where Hamlet has a chance to kill his uncle, Claudius.
As Hamlet enters the room, he sees Claudius “praying” and runs forwards to take his revenge. Eager Hamlet has a perfect chance to kill Claudius but then realizes that he would just send Claudius to heaven. “A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge. ” (III. III. 76-79) This soliloquy shows the eager and crazy side of Hamlet. After quite some time of planning, Hamlet finally sees an easy and quite way to kill Claudius but then like all other soliloquies, he over thinks about what might happen if he kills Claudius and postpones Claudius’s death.
He thinks that he needs to catch and kill Claudius while he is committing a sin so that it guarantees that Claudius will go to hell. This soliloquy also shows the multiple good qualities within Hamlet, mainly, the quality of forgiveness and calculating. This is seen when he says, “As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. ” (III. III95-96). This shows the forgiving nature of Hamlet as Claudius pretends to pray. Hamlet had every right to kill Claudius for his sins.
Yet to make sure that Claudius went to hell, he made sure he killed him while Claudius was committing a sin. This is how the sixth soliloquy shows the characteristics and the qualities within Hamlet. The final and the seventh soliloquy is personally my most favorite soliloquy (Act IV, Scene V). This is the scene is where Fortinbras is talking with Hamlet and how steadfast he is on getting “revenge” on Denmark. He is annoyed when he realizes it takes so long for him to complete a simple plan, and decides to finish his revenge.
We also see that he is quite unsure on what might happen, but is still honour bound to his oath, when he says, “When honour’s at the stake. How stand I, then, That have a father killed, a mother stained…” (IV. V. 56-57) He feels that Claudius deserves to die, even if it meant his own death. When he says, “To hide the slain? O, from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! ”(IV. V. 65-66). We see that he is preparing himself for what is about to come and know that he might lose his life too. The main quality of a hero that is seen in this soliloquy is courage and determination.
Hamlet knows that he might die, and but he also knows that there is a chance that he will be able to kill Claudius. Hamlet feels that till now he was a coward and he needs to honour his father. He is so faithful to his father that he doesn’t care of the consequences that might occur. This is also the downfall of Hamlet’s as he does die in the end. The final soliloquy finalizes his inner feelings and commitments towards himself and his father and shows multiple qualities of a hero. This is why I believe that the seventh soliloquy is the strongest proof that Hamlet is indeed a tragic hero.
Hamlet is quite the enigma as he keeps changing his mind about his commitments, but as the story continues we see that no matter what he faces, he continues to accomplish his duty to his father’s ghost. He is strong, philosophical, courageous, faithful, and quite the over-thinker, but overall has the perfect qualities to be called a tragic hero. In conclusion, I believe that the seven soliloquies of Hamlet, show the progression of his characteristics, and show the multiple qualities of a hero, thus making him a perfect example of a classic tragic hero.
Works Cited BrainyQuote. Xplore, n. d. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. <http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/authors/r/romain_rolland. html>. “Hamlet’s Fifth Soliloquy – Original Text and Summary. ” HubPages. N. p. , n. d. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. <http://hunbbel-meer. hubpages. com/hub/Hamlets-Fifth-Soliloquy-Original-Text-and-Summary>. “Hamlet’s First Soliloquy (Act 1, Scene 2) – Original Text & Summary. ” HubPages. N. p. , n. d. Web. 03 Nov.
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