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Examining the theme of revenge in Hamlet.

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Introduction

Josh Davies 10M. 30/06/02 Examining the theme of revenge in Hamlet. Shakespeare's play Hamlet has 5 acts like most plays of its time. There are 20 scenes in this play, which was first published in 1603. Hamlet is a revenge tragedy. This is a special form of tragedy, which concentrates on the protagonist's pursuit of vengeance against those who have done him wrong. These plays often concentrate on the moral confusion caused by the need to answer evil with evil. These plays often had a ghost who could not rest until their murderer was killed. Shakespeare uses soliloquy to show the audience the characters feelings, motives and decisions. Through soliloquy the theme of revenge and fate of the main characters can be charted. To explain the importance of revenge in the soliloquies I am going to write about the following: the Elizabethan convention of soliloquy and how it has evolved in today's performances, two versions of hamlet, one by Kenneth Branagh and one by Franco Zefferelli, and the way hamlets character is shown through the language of his soliloquies. I will also look at why Shakespeare stops using soliloquy after act 4. I will also make actors note on one of the soliloquies. ...read more.

Middle

He is shown to be revengeful, cunning, plotting and deceitful. I also believe that hamlet is in turmoil. He is disturbed and shows this by insistently questioning himself. I have picked three soliloquies that show his character, personality and feelings best. Hamlets passionate first soliloquy reveals the reasons for his despair. In a disjointed outpouring of disgust, anger, sorrow, and grief, Hamlet explains that, without exception, everything in his world is either futile or contemptible. His speech is saturated with suggestions of rot and corruption, as seen in the basic use of world like "rank" and "gross", and in the metaphor associating the world with " an un-weeded garden". The nature of his grief is soon exposed, as we learn that his mother, Gertrude, has married her own brother-in-law only two months after the death of her husband, Hamlets father, The King of Denmark. Hamlet even negates Gertrude's initial grief over the loss of her husband. She cried "unrighteous tears" because the sorrow she expressed was insincere. Another striking juxtaposition in the soliloquy is Hamlets use of Hyperion and a Satyr to describe his father and his uncle. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare stops using soliloquy after act 4. I believe he does this because he has no more time for thought. Hamlet has finally accepted his duty. He has driven himself to the conclusion that he has to go to war, to exact revenge on his uncle. At first he was greatly distressed over having to take revenge, but by act 4 he has overcome these feelings and commends the "imminent death of twenty thousand men" for a ludicrous "fantasy and trick of fame". Another reason for Shakespeare not using soliloquy after act 4 may be his consideration for his audience. Hamlet is a very long play and the groundlings that were the part of the audience that had to stand at the foot of the stage, would find it very hard to stand for such lengthy periods of. Perhaps Shakespeare stopped using soliloquy to shorten the length of the play for his audiences benefit. By stopping the use of soliloquy Shakespeare had no way of informing the audience of events unseen to them. He used the characters instead. The characters told the audience what had happened and kept them informed for the last act. ...read more.

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