Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play written to make the reader or director think for himself and create what he thinks to be Hamlets tragic flaw come alive. Any argument could be well supported or demolished on quotes and actions from the text and one’s interpretation of these. The bottom line is not what is Hamlet’s tragic flaw, but what tragic flaw can best be supported by the reader.
Hamlet’s tragic flaw is his inconsistent approach to problems. In the scenarios that may call for quick, decisive behavior, Hamlet ruminates. An example of this is seen in Act III, iii when Hamlet has his knife over the head of Claudius, prepared to murdered him, and he talks himself out of it. Another example of this is the play put on by Hamlet in Act III, ii when he wants to have proof of his father’s murder by Claudius. In reality, all Hamlet needs to do is act on the ghost’s words.
In those scenarios that require thorough contemplation, Hamlet is impulsive. An example of this is seen when hears a “rat” listening in on his dialogue with his mother in Act III, iv. Without the necessary thought, Hamlet draws his sword and kills Polonius. Another example to support this premise is in Act I, iv when Hamlet threatens his friends and follows the potentially dangerous ghost into the forest without any contemplation.
The contention that Hamlet’s tragic flaw is “external difficulties” can be disproven in Act III, iii when Hamlet has his knife drawn and is only a swift motion away from Claudius’ death. Hamlet’s tragic flaw is not that he is motivated by ambition. This point is best displayed in Act II, ii when Hamlet states “Man delights not me”(II, ii 359). “Man”, in this case, refers to the power structure imposed by society.
In conclusion, Hamlet’s tragic flaw is neither external difficulties nor his motivation by ambition. Because of his inconsistent approach to promlem solving, Hamlet is responsible for his own downfall.