Explore the concept of revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

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                                                                                                              Natalie Williams

Essay Title: Explore the concept of revenge in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In the Elizabethan era revenge was an important issue; this was a popular theme in the theatre and a main plot of the day.    Shakespeare’s plays were in great demand by the public and had a great effect on the audiences who watched.  Although most of the Elizabethan revenge plays were set in Italy or Spain the Elizabethan was still able to grasp the concept of the issues that were being raised in the play and was able to apply these issues to their daily living.

Shakespeare was greatly influenced by the classical Roman dramatist Seneca; Shakespeare applied Seneca’s ideas to his work. This is because the structure and the plot of Seneca’s work were of such a high standard that Seneca became well known.  

Many revenge tragedies consists of a typical structure which, when analysed is found to be comprised of five parts which are as follows:

Exposition – this is usually shown through the image of a ghost who motivates the character to take revenge.

Anticipation – this is where a planning of the revenge takes place.

Confrontation – This occurs between the avenger and the proposed victim.

Delay – The avenger has doubts as to whether or not he or she should carry     out the murder.                                                      

Completion – this is the finale, which often concludes with the death of the revenger.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet there are two main plots, that is the main plot and the sub- plot.

In the main plot of the play, Hamlet is commanded by the ghost of his father to seek revenge for his death.

Before Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost Hamlet had no real motive of his own to seek revenge for the death of his father, as he was unaware of the cause. However, during this encounter the ghost says: -  

“Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Act 1 Sc5 Line25)

This is where the tragedy begins, Hamlet is unsure of what to do at this point, as he wants to do the right thing for his father.  The ghost explains the events of his murder to Hamlet.

“O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell? Oh fie! Hold, hold, my heart,” (Act 1 Sc5 Line 92-93)

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This shocks and appals Hamlet. This is evident through the language and punctuation that Shakespeare uses to express Hamlet’s surprise and disgust of his uncle’s betrayal

Hamlet has many questions in which he needed answering, as he does not understand why the death of his father has happened, he seeks to get his questions answered of how to seek revenge from a spiritual realm as he feels God has forsaken him.

“Ay so, God bye to you.  Now I am alone.” (Act2 Sc2 Line 501)

Hamlet is indecisive as to what action to take, he vows to the ghost never ...

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