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Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet.

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Explore how Shakespeare examines the theme of revenge in Hamlet. By Nicola Carruthers The theme of revenge is consistent throughout Hamlet. The play is specifically a revenge tragedy and it became extremely popular during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. A dictionary definition of Revenge is defined as 'Retaliation for an injury or wrong' or 'the desire to inflict such retaliation'. In the case of Hamlet, the protagonist attempts to inflict revenge upon the antagonist Claudius, his uncle who murders Hamlet's father the king for the throne, through many attempts he takes it upon himself to avenge the death of his father but continually puts it off until he has reassurance to the obvious 'planned' death throughout the play. Not only is revenge seen in the title character but it is shown in the characters of Fortinbras and Laertes, who like Hamlet, were all looking to avenge the deaths of their fathers. Aspects of the Revenge tragedy are also linked to the Roman Senecan model. Senecan tragedy originated from the roman stoic philosopher and politician L. Annaeus Senecan who wrote 8 of the 10 dramas. They are usually about a secret murder. Following the theme of revenge upon the murder of someone of high class such as a member of the royal family by a 'bad guy' the antagonist of the play. ...read more.


Although in the case of Hamlet, the outcome of the play ends in many deaths and you have to question how many lives could have been saved if he had murdered Claudius when he had the chance. These scenes create a lot of tension for the audience as the excitement begins once as we watch Hamlet execute his plan of revenge after a long period of delay. The scene then brings frustration to the audience as Hamlet yet again puts off the revenge he has been seeking from the beginning. Although Hamlet being the central character with the main plot focusing on his quest for revenge for his father's deaths, he is not the only one looking to carry out vengeance in the name of his father. After act III, scene iv, is the 'closet scene' where Gertrude and her son Hamlet share a conversation, Polonius eavesdrops behind a tapestry as Gertrude is fully aware of and when she becomes scared of Hamlet's intensity during the conversation she cries out and Polonius calls for help. Hamlet cries 'How now! A rat?' and stabs Polonius through the tapestry. This act of spontaneity is a 'rash and bloody' dead and illustrates his inability to co-operate his thoughts and actions. ...read more.


He felt guilt and didn't want to be a murderer like him and saw himself mirrored in that way at the time. I think that it is Hamlet's mind of complex thinking that makes him analyze into things and complicates every situation and plot he thinks of, he critically thinks about every action and when doesn't, he kills another. He further procrastinates the vengeance he sets out to do and in turn, is his downfall. In my opinion, the play of Hamlet is a difficult and emotional journey which has only one ending in the revenge tragedy genre. It is Shakespeare's longest play and can only be credited for the many messages and entertainment it brings to its audiences. The complexity of the character of Hamlet in question makes the play very enjoyable and you have to wonder why he acts the way he does. It has made audiences and myself question the play in many ways surrounding its characters and various difficult plotlines. The theme of revenge tragedy has progressed thorough its language, imagery and characters and have helped to develop the main plot. My understanding of the text of the play has helped me to have a different perception of it and understand the struggle between knowing the truth and exacting the actions taken for revenge in the revenge tragedy genre. ...read more.

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This essay shows a clear understanding of the plot of 'Hamlet'; however it does not provide a high enough level of analysis. The whole essay should be peppered with textual references that are used to enhance and support analysis.

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 22/04/2013

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