The preeminent Greek philosopher and writer Aristotle defines a tragic hero as “A man of high estate; a well know, well intentioned man whose misfortunes result from some error in judgment or some flaw in character“. Does Prince Hamlet fit the definition of a tragic hero? This question is more complex then one may think. While most scholars agree that Hamlet could be considered a perfect or prototypical tragic hero, other view his role in the play differently. Some scholars can not find a true tragic flaw with Hamlet, others believe his mental instability and murderous ways make him just as much a villain as Claudius. I, however, do see Hamlet as a tragic hero. I believe Hamlet fits Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero very well, with his tragic flaw being his inability to carry out revenge for his father’s death. Hamlet’s hesitation to follow the ghost’s orders came from the skepticism of his father’s ghost, intellectual arrogance and his moral/ religious consciousness, all of which caused indecisiveness.
Much of what Hamlet truly feels about the ghost can be interpreted by Hamlet’s initial reaction to the ghost. After seeing the ghost for the first time, Hamlet exclaims:
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us. Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, be thy intents wicked or charitable. Thou com’st in such a questionable shape” (act 1, scene 4, 43-48)
Hamlet does this to make the audience aware of the fact that he is not entirely trusting of the ghost’s origin. Hamlet speculates that the ghost may be sent from Hell in order to entice him into committing sins, and thus Hamlet will suffer damnation. This fear of being sent to Hell stays with Hamlet for the rest of the play. As the play goes on and more murders are committed, Hamlet feels as if revenge may be sending him to hell instead of getting his father out of purgatory. By the end of the play, Hamlet seems to doubt the...