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Revenge in Hamlet.

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Introduction

Kristin Bell Mrs. Stroh Honors Comm Skills 12 15 April, 2002 Revenge in Hamlet In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses revenge as a major theme present throughout the work. Revenge defined by Merrium-Webster is "to avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree" (Merrium-Webster). Revenge plays a crucial role in the development of many characters in the play Hamlet. The three main characters that display revenge throughout the play are Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, and Laertes, the son of Polonius. All three men seek revenge for the murder of their fathers. It is said that revenge can be interpreted as a separate character in Hamlet (Bradley 115). Revenge is set to overcome anyone who seeks it. Initially, after each of the murders, every son had an inflexible course of action to obtain vengeance. In Hamlet's case, the choice was to seek no vengeance. As the play unfolds, each young man approaches the desire for revenge and chooses a different path towards gaining it based on the guidance of another character in the play. Fortinbras' good decisions and self-control, as well as, Hamlet and Laertes' bad decisions can be attributed to the outside guidance they receive (Hoy 84). ...read more.

Middle

Then based on Claudius' response to the play, Hamlet would conclude his guilt or innocence. Hamlet says, "I'll have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks, I'll tent him to the quick" (2.2.603-606). After seeing Claudius' response to the play, Hamlet affirms the King's guilt and proceeds with his plan to kill him (Wilson 57). Hamlet had a stronger conscience than Fortinbras or Laertes, and because of this, he gave the most thought to his strategy of revenge. Even after Hamlet decides to kill Claudius, he continues to question how his revenge will affect himself, as well as, the King. In Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" soliloquy, he says, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all" (3.1.84). By conscience, Hamlet is referring to looking into his mind and feelings. Hamlet is saying his conscience is in turmoil; his world is falling apart. Although he fears the consequences of murdering Claudius it seems like he feels obligated by guilt to continue with his plan (Hoy 96). Because of the responsibility his father placed upon him, Hamlet is overcome with rage. Now, he not only wants to kill Claudius, but he wants to ensure that Claudius will go to hell when he is killed. ...read more.

Conclusion

By choosing not to attack Denmark, Fortinbras was able to avoid death. The ghost of Hamlet's father caused Hamlet's death by advising Hamlet to seek revenge. This makes King Hamlet appear as a goblin damned as opposed to a good ghost. Before his encounter with his father Hamlet did not want any part in the act of revenge. In attempt to pursue his father's wishes, Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius, which causes his death and essentially Ophelia's death. When Laertes listens to King Claudius he brings death upon both of them. Laertes did not think his own sword would be used against him. In the end, the men's fate was determined not only by their own feelings, but by the actions advised by the command of another person. For Hamlet and Laertes successful revenge led them to death. The guidance he received, as well as, inner strength overcame Fortinbras' need for revenge and led him to happiness (Hoy 162). In Shakespeare's times, revenging the death of a loved one was accepted, and in the case of Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes, revenge was justifiable. I believe that the revenge of each of these men's father's death was inevitable. I do believe that their death could have been avoided, but if it were, this would have not been a tragedy. ...read more.

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