Each major character of Shakespeare’s Hamlet has a major flaw, which destroys him or her. The King, Queen, Hamlet, Ophelia, and Polonius all have these flaws but Horatio does not. He is Shakespeare’s ideal man.
Claudius’ fatal flaw is ambitiousness. Claudius kills his brother King Hamlet and then takes the throne by marrying King Hamlet’s wife:
“Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen…have we (as ‘twere with a defeated joy, with an auspicious and a dropping eye, with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, in equal scale weighing delight and dole) taken to wife”(I.ii.10-14).
Claudius admits to killing the King in a confessional prayer:
“O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, a brother’s murder…O, what form of prayer can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder? That cannot be, since I am still possessed of those effects for which I did the murder: My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen. May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?’ ”(III.iii.40-43, 55-60).
Another ambition of Claudius is he wants to have Hamlet murdered in England:
“I like him not, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range. Therefore prepare you. I your commission will forthwith dispatch. And he to England shall along with you…hazard so near ‘s as doth hourly grow out of his brows” (III.iii.1-7).
The fate of the King is fatal. His deceitfulness kills him when he challenges Laertes and Hamlet to duel, he poisons the tip of Laertes sword and in a cup of wine he puts a poisonous pearl: Hamlet: The point envenomed too! Then, venom, to thy work.
King: O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt. Hamlet: Here, thou incestuous, *murd’rous,* damnéd Dane, drink off this potion. I *thy union* here (V.ii.352-357)?
The Queen’s flaw is lust. She lusts after her first husband King Hamlet and when he dies she lusts after Claudius: “But two months dead – nay, not so much, not two…Why, she *would* hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on. And yet , within a month (let me not think on ‘t; frailty, thy name is woman!)…(O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer!), married with my uncle…” (I.ii.142, 147-150, 155-156). Gertrude trusts King Claudius and because of her trust her fate becomes death:
King: Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen: I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me. [She drinks]
King: [aside] It is the poisoned cup. It is too late…
Queen: No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear
Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.
Hamlet’s passivity is his flaw. The deceased King Hamlet’s ghost tells Hamlet to get revenge: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (I.v.31) and by telling him this he misses the opportunity to kill King Claudius: “Now might I do it *pat*, now he is a-praying, and now I’ll do ‘t. And so he goes to heaven, and so am I *revenged*…A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do...