Revenge in Hamlet
Throughout history, revenge has stood out as a primal human instinct that has fueled terrible deeds. Though, it often leads one to perform criminal acts, Howard argues that it is a necessary component in the functioning of society. He points out that revenge is a threat that acts as a disincentive to undeserved violence. Revenge is an emotion that has not only consumed many, it has been simplified that in all fairness one turn deserves another. However, Shakespeare's Hamlet questions the effectiveness of revenge as a deterrent, as it is an emotion that consumes Hamlet, Fortinbras and Laertes and leads to the deaths of all, but one of them.
Claudius did not conceive that Hamlet would at some point want to exert revenge for his father's demise. Interestingly, this fact did not deter him from later murdering King Hamlet and marrying his wife. Hamlet, though determined, is unable to avenge his father's death and it is this delay that drives the plot forward and leads to the deaths of Ophelia, Rosencratz, Polonius, Gertrude, Laertes and Guildenstern. Fortinbras is consumed by revenge and journeys for several days in order to exert his vengeance for his father's murder and he succeeds in triumphing Denmark. As well, Laertes connives to kill Hamlet in order to avenge the death of Polonius, his father. William Shakespeare relies on the reaction of Hamlet, Fortinbras and Laertes to investigate the theme of revenge in Hamlet.
The death of Hamlet's father and his reaction thereafter epitomizes the theme of revenge. Hamlet does not have a desire to exert vengeance on Claudius, and Shakespeare creates a situation that obligates Hamlet to carry out the revenge for his father. His vacillation between self-rage, doubt and self-pity are seen to exacerbate his situation, and reinforces the theme of revenge. Laertes' reaction to the death of his father is premised on grief and illogical anger, and uses revenge to give him closure. Fortinbras' reaction to the death of his father exemplifies the theme of revenge. His only desire is to recover the lost territory when his father died; his revenge is driven by honor and belief that restoration of the territory will give Norway the honor it once has before the war.
Shakespeare depends on the reactions of Hamlet, Fortinbras and Laertes to interrogate the theme of revenge. Their rage has taken different forms and collectively reveals the intricacy and diversity of human feelings in bringing the theme of revenge into life.
Theme of Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay
872 Words4 Pages
For a play to be considered a revenge tragedy, revenge has to be a prevalent theme throughout. Revenge needs to be intertwined in character interactions, and have a strong hold on the driving force of the plot. The desires of Hamlet, Laertes, and young Fortinbras each exhibit how the plot of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare revolves entirely around revenge. The theme of revenge starts off very early in the play, when Hamlet speaks with the ghost of his deceased father. When the ghost tells Hamlet how Claudius murdered him, Hamlet is infuriated and overtaken with feelings of responsibility to right the wrong that has been done; to murder Claudius. The effects of this experience on Hamlet are portrayed clearly in the following quote, "And…show more content…
Hamlet, through soliloquy, tells his audience that he has a master plan of revenge for his father. He plans to act insane, and commits to the role very well; almost too well. The portrayal pf Hamlet’s initial undertaking of his insanity act is easily shown by what he says to Gertrude, "That essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft." ( ---) This shows that Hamlet was only acting crazy as a component of his revenge scheme. However, later in the play we witness the murder of Polonius by Hamlet. Hamlet killed Polonius without meaning to, thinking he was killing the king who murdered his father. But right as he realizes what he has done, he has no sympathy or regret for his actions, and simply brushes it off as a mistake well spent. Hamlet says after the deed, "How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!" Hamlet (III, iv, 23) This quote is clearly an argument for Hamlet’s right state of mind, and only further develops the plot of the story. He begins to become a reckless killing machine, which changes from what he wanted in the beginning; to only kill Claudius. The desire and thirst for revenge in Hamlet’s self overtook his senses of better judgment, and he began to act on impulse. Revenge essentially was the root of all of Hamlet’s evils, and developed this