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Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet.

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Introduction

Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet The theme of revenge is examined throughout Hamlet on many different levels and situations. Shakespeare explores this revenge through characters, language, imagery and how the audience would have perceived the revengeful situations. Shakespeare wrote Hamlet at the end of the Elizabethan period, beginning of Jacobean period. It was not considered to be part of new genre as revenge tragedies were already a well-established genre. Shakespeare therefore only had to follow the main traditions in order to successfully write 'Hamlet'. According to the accepted characteristics revenge tragedies should have included ghosts or supernatural beings, violence, sex, bloodthirsty revenge for family honour and bloody carnage. Most revenge tragedies end in a bloodbath killing off all the main characters apart from the loyal best friend. Hamlets complex plot is advanced, compared to most revenge tragedies as it included many subplots intervened into one play. It uses many of the typical themes of a revenge tragedy in order to get points across. The play has depth to it making the impact of revenge felt deeply by the audience. The audience is able to empathize with Hamlet and look at the ethics of revenge. Shakespeare includes three main revenge plots in Hamlet. The main one in Hamlet's desire to get revenge over Claudius. This revenge is considered necessary because Claudius killed Hamlet's father and then married Hamlet's mother and became king. During this complex plot Hamlet murders Laertes' father Polonius and caused his sister Ophelia to commit suicide by confusing and making her go beyond insanity. ...read more.

Middle

Murder was not seen as law binding in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods but as something immoral and against god's teachings. In a modern society the audience would see murder as law binding and the consequences as a prison sentence. Not many people in a modern day audience would take into account how god would punish them. God is not seen as such a threat on people in a contemporary society as he was in the era when Hamlet was written. Revenge in general was considered 'That, which is past is gone and irrevocable' and futile, this shows what Francis Bacon believed revenge to be. Francis Bacon was an intellectual and heavily involved in the Protestant movement. What he believed was trusted to be correct by a majority of people at the time of Hamlet. The audience when 'Hamlet' was originally shown would have not thought wrongly of the murders either this is because laws could not be enforced so effectively. Francis Bacon also believed that Revenge should be left to god, as he knows if it is morally acceptable or not. He believed that only bad things could come out of men playing god. They believed that everyone would eventually get what is owed to them. A modern day audience considers when Laertes tells Hamlet about the fact that he is attempting to get revenge on him pointless. Revenge is supposed to be secretive rather than out in the open. The period in, which Hamlet would have been watched believed differently. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also shows how he has become disillusioned with main humanity. Bernard Lott believes that 'when Hamlet's speeches are straightened out the evident complications of phraseology and syntax remain to sense reflection of the inner turmoil in his soul'. This is clearly shown in Hamlets 'to be or not to be' soliloquy. Soliloquies in general show a characters innermost emotions but Hamlet's show a new depth to his character. A side of him is shown the analyses situations and shows that he thinks too much but does not act upon his thoughts. This shows that Hamlet has to contemplate situations completely and is very cautious. Hamlets cautiousness is shown by his inability to kill Claudius outright and how he has to delve deeper by rein acting the murder. Having revenge prolonged throughout the play gives the audience higher anxiety levels, as they are unsure if Hamlet will actually gain revenge over Claudius. Shakespeare cleverly intervenes Laertes revenge into the play allowing the two perspectives to be taken on how a person gets revenge. Fortinbras is also an character in that sense because if can be imagined that he opposed to Hamlet had a straightforward plan of how he would get revenge, which took into account the right situation and time. Fortinbras not only comes off as the only sophisticated character in this sense but as the one who had his revenge got for him. This can be interpreted that he did get revenge as will go on to rule Denmark or that he did not physically kill Hamlet so did not get his revenge. 1 Elizabeth Arram - 1010 ...read more.

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