The unhappy ending is the dramatic convention. The author would utilize it to kill Hamlet at the end of the play. Hamlet can be considered both a comedy and a tragedy. So, such a technique seems fitting in the Shakespearean style.
Unlike conflict or suspense, an unhappy ending serves as a tool for ending the story. It does not further develop the plot but ties the loose ends instead. This dramatic convention happens in the last scene. So, it is plausible to assume that an unhappy ending is an answer. It also serves as a resolution to the Shakespearean tragedy’s conflict.
Throughout the play, Hamlet faces a morally demanding decision. Should he avenge his father’s death by killing uncle Claudius or commit suicide? Hamlet’s death in the form of a tragic ending would resolve this conflict. By choosing one of the moral dilemma’s options, the protagonist finishes the story plotwise. Such an ethical dilemma and a specific finale make a play tragic, as opposed to comedic.
A character’s death is an essential component of a Shakespearean tragedy structure. It primarily revolves around a moral or ethical dispute, usually ending with death. Hamlet follows a classical pattern of a tragedy. As Andrew Cecil Bradley, a 20th century Shakespeare scholar, notes:
“It is, in fact, essentially a tale of suffering and calamity conducting to death.”
Along with tragic finale, a Shakespearean pattern also involved conventions like:
- soliloquy (a famous Hamlet’s monologue “To be or not to be”);
- rhymed dialogues;
- Aristotle’s plot structure of a definite beginning, middle, and end.
All these methods, along with the unhappy ending, shape a classical Shakespearean drama.