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Hamlet and heroism

            Before clarifying the exact meaning of the word, let us see what critics say about Hamlet's heroism.
             In Szenczi's view, "the strength, the heroic quality of Hamlet has now been generally recognized." Shakespeare did not want to make a "model of irresolution, a case for psychopathology, or an illustration of the Oedipus complex." Arnold Kettle claims that "It is unforgivable to act Hamlet as though he were a neurotic instead of a hero" (Szenczi 1990: 124).
             William Guthrie calls him "everyman" because there is nothing heroic in him, no special passion or virtue; he is just an average man: benevolent, pleasant, sensitive, and wants to fulfil his commitments. This is quite contrary to what Schlegel thinks about Hamlet: a romantic hero with a tragic fate. Schlegel also accuses him of becoming cynical (Hankiss 1995).
             As Hankiss summarized Hamlet's picture: at first a hero who wins over the world and himself, then a fragile young man who takes refuge in daydreams and melancholy, then a loveable and weak character that is too sophisticated both morally and emotionally, then a symbol of melancholy and Weltschmerz (1995).
             According to an unknown author: "A tragic hero doesn't need to be good." Hamlet dies, but it is the best that can happen to him under the circumstances: without his parents and Ophelia he could not have much pleasure in life. "The tragic hero must possess many good traits, as well as one flaw, which eventually leads to his downfall." Hamlet's good traits: brave, daring, loyal to his father, intelligent (as he is able to make up the idea of feigning madness "in order to get more information about Claudius"). His one flaw: he cannot "get around to do anything", such as finishing school, stopping mourning his father, killing Claudius, pretending he is insane, or marrying Ophelia. The audience must feel sympathy for the tragic hero, or else "it wouldn't seem so tragic". Fulfilling all the above criteria, Hamlet is a perfect example of a tragic hero (2002).

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