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Revenge In Hamlet Essay, Research Paper
The Presence of Revenge in Hamlet
Revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet. In the play Hamlet, by
William Shakespeare, the theme of revenge is repeated numerous times
play and involves a great deal of characters. Of these characters, eight are
dead by the end
of the play by result of murder which was initiated through revenge.
Shakespeare uses the
revenge theme to create conflict among many characters. Revenge causes one to
blindly through anger, rather than through reason. It is based on the
principle of an eye for
an eye, but this principle is not always an intelligent theory to live by.
Laertes, and Hamlet are all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers.
There are three
major families in the Tragedy of Hamlet. These are the family of King
family of Polonius, and the family of King Hamlet. The heads of each of these
all slaughtered within the play. Fortinbras, King of Norway, is killed by
King Hamlet; slain
by sword during a man to man battle. "our valiant Hamlet-for so this
side of our known
world esteem’d him-did slay this Fortinbras." This entitled King Hamlet
to the land that
was possessed by Fortinbras because it was written in a seal’d contract.
Polonius is an
advisor to the King, and father to Laertes and Ophelia. He is nosy and
arrogant, and he
does not trust his children. He is killed by Young Hamlet while he is
eavesdropping on a
conversation between Hamlet and his mother. "How now! A rat? Dead, for a
dead!" King Hamlet is the King of Denmark, and Hamlet’s father. He has
Fortinbras, only to be killed by his brother, Claudius. "My offense is
rank, it smells to
heaven; A brother’s murder?" Each of these events effects the sons of
the deceased in the
same way, it enraged them.
Shakespeare uses the revenge theme to create conflict between Hamlet and
Claudius. In Act I, scene 5, Hamlet is visited by the ghost who was his
father. The ghost
makes Hamlet aware of his murderous death when he tells Hamlet of how
killed him. The ghost says this to Hamlet regarding Claudius, "Revenge
his foul and most
unnatural murder." This is where Hamlet is first introduced to the
revenge plot between
himself and Claudius. Hamlet wants to insure that the ghost really was his
before he kills Claudius. To do this Hamlet has people act out the death of
his father in
front of Claudius and declares him guilty by his reaction to the play. "
O good Horatio, I’ll
take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound." Hamlet declares Claudius’
guilt to Horatio
and now realizes that he must continue on with his revenge plot. The conflict
Hamlet and Claudius is delayed by Hamlet but does eventually occur in the
Hamlet’s mother has just died, Hamlet has been sliced by Laertes’ poison
Hamlet has just struck Laertes with a fatal blow when Laertes says that this
brought on by Claudius. Hamlet, now realizing that there is no more time for
him to delay
his revenge, stabs Claudius and kills him. Revenge was the motive for the
Hamlet and Claudius.
Every one of the three eldest sons has one thing in common, they all want
for a slaughtered father. In the time in which this play is set, avenging the
murder of a
father was part of one’s honor, and had to be done. All of the three sons
vengeance, and then acts towards getting revenge for the deaths of their
Fortinbras is deeply enraged by the death of his father, and he wants revenge
Denmark because of this occurrence. Fortinbras wanted to, by force, regain
the lands that
had been lost by his father to Denmark. "Now sir, young Fortinbras-as it
doth well appear
unto our state-but to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsive,
lands so by his father losta" Claudius sends messengers to talk to
Fortinbras’ uncle, the
new King of Norway. He forbids Fortinbras to attack Denmark, and instead
to attack the Poles to vent his anger. "His nephew’s levies, which to
him appear’d to be a
preparation ‘gainst the Polack; But better look’d into, he truly found it was
highness. On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys, receives rebuke from
Norway, and, in
fine, makes vow before his uncle never more to give the assay of arms against
Laertes finds out about his father’s death, and immediately returned home. He
confronts the King and accused him of the murder of his father. Claudius told
Hamlet was responsible for his father’s death. He then decides to kill Hamlet
to avenge the
death of his father. He and Claudius concoct a plot to kill Hamlet. Hamlet
dies of wounds
from the poisoned tipped sword Laertes used. "Hamlet, thou art slain The
instrument is in thy, unbated and envenom’d" Hamlet is deeply sorrowed
by his father’s
death. He speaks to a ghost, and this ghost states that his father’s death
was a murder, by
the hand of his uncle, Claudius. "The serpent that did sting thy
father’s life now wears his
crown." Hamlet is astonished, and then swears vengeance for his father’s
death. He then
proceeds to try and prove his uncle’s guilt, and then finally kills him while
he himself is
dying of poisoned wounds inflicted by Laertes during their duel. "The
too! Then venom, to thy work Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,
this potion,-is thy union here? Follow my mother." This left the King
dead, and his
father’s death avenged. Shakespeare uses the revenge plot to create conflict
Laertes and Hamlet by having Laertes avenge his father’s and sister’s death
is responsible for. After learning of his fathers unnatural death, Hamlet
decides that he can
no longer trust anyone, except for Horatio. While acting out his madness, he
Ophelia and cut off his ties with her because of his distrust for everyone.
In Act III, when
Hamlet talks with his mother, he notices that he is being spied upon.
Thinking that it is the
king, Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius who was hiding behind a big rug, which
medeval reason, was hung on the wall. It is believed Ophelia herself went mad
Hamlet’s rude and violent treatment of her and also because Hamlet killed her
Act IV Ophelia’s madness drives her to walk into the river and drown. When
arrives back from France he has heard the horrible news and says,
And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desperate terms,
Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfection?s: but my revenge will come.
Laertes is plotting revenge against the murderer of his father and sister,
asks Laertes, "what would you undertake, To show yourself in deed your
More than in words?" Claudius and Laertes come to the conclusion that
they will hold a
sword duel between Hamlet and Laertes. Laertes will have poison on his sword
Claudius will have a glass with poison in it ready for Hamlet to quench his
the duel, Hamlet is scratched by the poison tipped sword of Laertes. It is
that Hamlet will die. Therefore, the conflict between Laertes and Hamlet has
revenge for Laertes.
The lack of thought used in exacting the revenge leads to the deaths of both
Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes plans with Claudius to kill Hamlet with the
sword, but they had not thought that the sword might be used against them.
believing the King’s accusations that Hamlet had murdered his father, he was
in a blind
rage, and would not listen to Hamlet’s explanation and apology. "I am
satisfied in nature to
my revenge I stand aloof and will no reconcilement But till that time, I do
offer’d love like love, and will not wrong it.". He fights Hamlet, and
wounds him once
with the poisoned tipped sword; but unfortunately, their swords are switched,
wounds Laertes with the sword. That is the wound by which Laertes dies.
many chances to kill his uncle, but his rage outweighed his intelligence; and
he chose to
wait until the lord could see no good in Claudius, and then strike him down
into a world
of eternal damnation. "Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; A
villain kills my father;
and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven."
Hamlet waits until he can
kill his uncle while he is performing a sin, unfortunately for Hamlet, the
sin is the
poisoning of his own son in law. Hamlet dies of his poisoned wound. Young
regains his fathers land, without use of violence, or death to himself.
Hamlet names him
new ruler of Denmark before he dies, and Fortinbras regains all of his
father’s lost land,
and becomes King of Denmark.
Through the revenge theme, Shakespeare creates an interior conflict between
Hamlet and himself. In Hamlet’s first soliloquy, Hamlet displays his
melancholy state of
being and his unwillingness to live. " Or that the Everlasting had not
fix’d His canon ‘gainst
self-slaughter!" Hamlet states that if God was not against suicide then
he would take his
own life. In Hamlet’s second soliloquy, after the meeting with his father’s
ghost, he beats
himself up by saying, ?Am I a coward…?",and, ?I am pigeon-liver’d,
and lack gall". Hamlet
wants revenge at this time but he is questioning his willingness to kill
Claudius, so he is
calling himself a coward.
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must like a whore unpack my heart with words,(2.2.584-588)
The greatest interior conflict between Hamlet and himself occurs when Hamlet
killing of Claudius. Hamlet carefully examines the need to avenge his fathers
A villian kills my father, and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge. (3.4.76-79)
Delaying at this point is Hamlet’s tragic flaw. The conflict between Hamlet
and himself is
resolved when Hamlet kills Claudius because he himself was going to die soon
little time left. Therefore, the interior conflict between Hamlet and
himself, was created by
the revenge plot.
Since the Heads of the three major families were each murdered, the eldest
these families swore vengeance, and two of the three sons dies while exacting
their acts of
vengeance, revenge is a major theme in the Tragedy of Hamlet. As a theme,
present in all parts of the play. It seems ironic that Claudius, Laertes, and
Hamlet all died
of the same sword. It is also ironic that the first the seek revenge against
Fortinbras, becomes King of Denmark. Revenge was the driving force behind
three of the
main characters of the play, for two it led to downfall, and for the other it
led to greatness.
The revenge plot was used by Shakespeare to create conflict among many
throughout the play, Hamlet.
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