Hamlet's Fatal Flaw Essay

889 words - 4 pages

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an interesting play in many ways. The character Hamlet is particularly intriguing in regards to his fatal flaw. Hamlet’s fatal flaw is a specific trait that forces him to postpone killing the king and it is this trait that drives Hamlet mad (Shakespeare 1.4.23-38). This Shakespearean tragedy is open to many interpretations of Hamlet’s fatal flaw. Two recent film productions of the play, Kenneth Branaugh’s Hamlet and the Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, each show a different fatal flaw in Hamlet. Branaugh shows his fatal flaw to be that Hamlet over thinks everything. Zeffirelli accentuates the Oepipus Complex in Hamlet meaning that Hamlet is jealous over his mother. Branaugh and Zeffirelli both use different methods to illustrate their interpretations.
There are many opinions as to what Hamlet’s fatal flaw is. One opinion is that Hamlet is that Hamlet over thinks everything. This is readily apparent and evidence for it can be found in several places. The issue of the ghost’s appearance is extremely disturbing to Hamlet who is still grieving over the loss of his father (Shakespeare 1.2.170-258). Hamlet and Horatio, the figure of wisdom in the play, worry that the ghost could really be an evil spirit sent to tempt or kill Hamlet (Shakespeare 1.4.39-92). In trying to figure everything out Hamlet says that “conscience does make cowards of us all” (Shakespeare 3.1. 83). Another view is the Oedipus complex in which Hamlet is primarily concerned about his mother’s infidelity, for example he mentions his mother’s adultery before his father’s murder (Shakespeare 1.4.105-106). Ophelia’s rejection of him seems to mirror his mother’s rejection of his father and it is what finally drives him insane (Shakespeare 3. 1. 88-164). Hamlet only delays taking revenge on Claudius because Hamlet can see himself in the actions of his uncle. Claudius is only acting out what Hamlet secretly wants to do, take his father’s place as his mother’s lover. This would explain why Hamlet puts off the revenge instead of carrying it out immediately after seeing his father’s ghost. It would also provide a reason for Hamlet’s later insanity.
Branaugh interpreted Hamlet as a man placed in difficult circumstances, trying to outwit perpetual scheming and sort out what his plan of action should be. He believed that Hamlet’s fatal flaw was his over thinking. The message of his father’s ghost “to avenge his most foul and unnatural murder” (Shakespeare 1.5.25) presses Hamlet’s intellect to its limits. Hamlet wants to do the right thing. The suspense is in trying to decide right from wrong. Hamlet despite wishing to avoid the “morally repulsive action” (Aichinger, par 4) of revenge, he feels the duty to avenge his father’s death. As Foster says, “Hamlet has, after all, been a student of...

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