What Dramatic Convention would Shakespeare be Using if He Kills the Character of Hamlet?

Updated 28 August, 2023
If Shakespeare kills the character of Hamlet at the end of his play, he would he be using the unhappy ending as a dramatic convention. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet is considered a tragedy, the author would use Hamlet’s death to create a sense of tragedy and pathos.
Detailed answer:

If Shakespeare were to kill the character of Hamlet in his eponymous play, he would be employing the dramatic convention of tragedy. Tragedy is a genre in which the protagonist's actions and flaws lead to their downfall and often their death. In Shakespearean tragedies, the central character's fate is often influenced by their own choices and the consequences of those choices.

Hamlet, as a tragic hero, already exhibits qualities that align with the conventions of tragedy. He possesses a tragic flaw, which in his case is his indecision and internal conflict, particularly evident in his famous soliloquy: "To be or not to be." Throughout the play, Hamlet's quest for vengeance, his moral dilemmas, and his inability to take decisive action contribute to the unfolding tragedy.

If Hamlet were to be killed, likely as a result of his confrontations with King Claudius or his involvement in the play's intrigues, his death would be the culmination of the tragic trajectory he follows. His demise would serve to emphasize the themes of fate, mortality, and the consequences of one's actions, common motifs in Shakespearean tragedies.

Shakespeare's tragedies often adhere to Aristotle's principles of tragedy, which include the concept of "hamartia," or tragic flaw, and "anagnorisis," the moment of realization or discovery that the protagonist experiences. Hamlet's potential death would provide the ultimate anagnorisis for him and the audience, where the consequences of his actions and decisions become irrevocably clear.

Moreover, the death of the main character, particularly one as iconic as Hamlet, serves to evoke strong emotional responses from the audience. It underscores the tragic nature of the narrative and reinforces the overarching themes of the play. The play's resolution through Hamlet's death would align with the cathartic effect that Aristotle believed tragedy should have on the audience.

In conclusion, killing the character of Hamlet would exemplify the dramatic convention of tragedy in Shakespearean literature. His death would not only fulfill the tragic trajectory of his character but also evoke emotional catharsis in the audience, in line with the principles of tragedy as defined by Aristotle.

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