ENG3U By: Daisy Gao For: Mr. Currathers Due: July 29th, 2015
Aristotle, a famous Greek philosopher, once said: “A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.” Tragic heroes are born into nobility, normally as princes or kings. However, they both have tragic flaws which are caused by their own nature. Tragic heroes will have some great personal conflicts. In addition, they are doomed by their tragic flaw. Unfortunately, they all died at the end. In the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare and in the novel Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, tragic hero is an important theme. First of all, Hamlet acts insane to cover his real emotion, while Kurtz is really mad as a result of his corruption. Furthermore, Hamlet kills other characters for revenging for his father, whereas Kurtz kills natives to show his power. Also, Hamlet never lost his goodness inside of him, although Kurtz is full of darkness. In short, Hamlet and Kurtz are both tragic heroes, but readers have more sympathy to Hamlet. First of all, Hamlet acts insane to cover his real emotion, while Kurtz is really mad as result of his corruption. Hamlet is not crazy, but he needs to act in insanity way as a device to take revenge on Claudius.
“Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd some’er I bear myself(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on) That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake, Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase.”(Shakespeare, Act 1, Scene 5, Line 189-195)
Hamlet said this to Horatio and his servant that do not feel strange if he acts madly. After he meets his dead father’s ghost, he is planing to take revenge on Claudius who actually kills his father and to act crazy is a best way to do it. The reason is now Claudius is a king, it is not easy to kill him and he is spied by many characters. If he can be crazy, he will get away from them easier. However, Kurtz is the one who really gets mad. It is not only showed by cutting natives heads off, but also showed by putting those heads face his house. “They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house.”(Conrad, p86) Normally, people will be sacred by those heads but Kurtz makes them face to him, it is like he wants to see them everyday. He makes them look like decorations which makes him seem like a psychopath. While Hamlet explain to his mother clearly that he is not insane. “My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time And makes as healthful music. It is not madness That I have uttered,”(Shakespeare, Act 3, Scene 4, Line 161-163) Basically, he tells his mother that he is normal just like her. Through his clearly and organized speech, it is easily to determine that he is sanity. Whereas Kurtz is erupted by unlimited power in Africa, he even does not want to go back to his hometown. “ ‘He hated sometimes the idea of being taken away—and then again….But I don’t understand these matters.”(Conrad, p95) Russian Trader tells Marlow that the attack is Kurtz’s order, he wants to scary them so that they cannot take him back to London. When people leave their hometown, they will be homesick but not Kurtz. He just want to stay there because that place gives him so much power. But Hamlet has another evidence to show he is not mad. When his friends