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Hamlet as a Tragic Hero

             There is no question that the play "Hamlet" is a tragedy in every respect. However, the question of whether or not Hamlet portrays the role of a tragic hero, according to the definition set by Aristotle, is not as clearly defined. Strong arguments can be made for and against branding Hamlet a tragic hero. Though in the end, it seems that the evidence points more in the direction of Hamlet, indeed, being a tragic hero. Prince Hamlet has all the good characteristics typical of a tragic hero and, like all other tragic heroes, even carries with him a certain flaw that leads to a tragic ending. In fact, Hamlet fills the part of the tragic hero almost perfectly.
             According to Aristotle, there is a set criteria for one to follow in order to be a tragic hero. First of all, a tragic hero will evoke both our pity and our terror, being neither completely good nor completely evil. To strengthen the tragic effect, the hero will appear "better than we are," in the sense that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth. Such a hero will have suffered a decline from a state of happiness to one of misery, brought about by his tragic flaw, or hamartia.
             Hamlet displays all the major characteristics generally associated with a tragic hero. While the following traits were not literally described by Aristotle, they are typical of most tragic heroes throughout literary history. First of all, Hamlet is brave in the fact that he takes a fairly large risk in departing for England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. If his plan didn't work for one reason or another, he was sure to be executed. In some aspects, his bravery can also be seen when Hamlet blindly follows a ghost into the darkness away from the safety of the others. It is also fairly obvious that Hamlet is very loyal. The whole story revolves around Hamlet's loyalty to his father, and even causes him to view his mother coldly and hate his uncle.

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