The Theme of Revenge in Shakespeares Hamlet Play

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​People tend to seek revenge from a person or a group of people when they can’t keep up with the humiliation and decide to take the task of teaching people a lesson without  leaving everything to God to handle. The theme of revenge In Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet, ​written by William Shakespeare is portrayed all throughout the beginning and the end of the play. ​Three of the main revenge plots within the play are Hamlet’s goal to take revenge on Claudius for his father’s death, Fortinbras goal to take his revenge from Denmark, and Laertes’ goal to take revenge from Hamlet for Polonius’s death.   

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  Throughout the play, Hamlet tries to seek revenge on Claudius ever since he encountered the ghost of his father. After the ghost tells Hamlet that he was murdered, Hamlet is determined to get revenge and kill Claudius. “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” . In this quote the ghost requests Hamlet to take revenge from the person who murdered him and the ghost is about to tell Hamlet who his murderer actually is. This quote is important because Hamlet realizes that his father wasn’t killed by a poisonous snake but in fact he was murdered but Hamlet isn’t sure if he should believe the ghost or not. This puts the events of the play into action since most of the play revolves around Hamlet deciding whether to seek revenge and actually acting on his decision to seek revenge. “Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; And now I’ll do’t. And, so he goes to heaven; And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father; and for that,I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven.”  In this quote Hamlet follows Claudius after the play and he decides to finally take revenge from Claudius and basically murder him. He is thinking about taking revenge because he has the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius but he fails to act since Claudius was praying at that time. He thinks that killing Claudius while he is praying will only send him to heaven even though Claudius has committed the murder of his father. Hamlet wants to make sure that he kills Claudius at a time when he is committing a sin so that Claudius can go to hell for eternity. “ O, this is hire and salary, not revenge. He took my father grossly, full of bread, With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May; And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?”. In this quote Hamlet starts to think that he shouldn’t kill Claudius while he is praying because it would just bring him to heaven instead of hell. Claudius killed his father in the middle of his fathers sinful life and if he kills Claudius while he is repenting of his sins, it will only send Claudius to heaven. He will basically be giving Claudius a favour. Hamlet’s goal is to murder Claudius while he’s doing a sinful act just the way Cluadius did to his father. “Here, thou incestuous, muderous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother.”  In this quote, Hamlet finally kills Claudius by stabbing him with the poisoned sword and he forces Claudius to drink down the rest of the poisoned wine. Hamlet eventually also dies in the play right after he achieves revenge on Claudius.  

Another example of revenge from the play is when Laertes’ plans to seek revenge on Hamlet because Hamlet murdered his father Polonius. This happened when Hamlet was having a discussion with his mother Gertrude about how Claudius is guilty for King Hamlet’s death and he also expresses his feelings to his mother about her marriage with Claudius. In the middle of their discussion, Hamlet tries to harm his mother and Gertrude calls for help. At this moment, Polunios who is hiding behind the tapestry responds to Gertrudes call for help and Hamlet instantly thinks that Cluadius is behind the tapestry so he blindly stabs Polonius. “ Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better; take thy fortune: Thou find’st to be busy is some danger. Leave wringing of your hands: peace!”. In this quote Hamlet lifts up the arras and discovers that he murdered Polonius instead of Claudius. Hamlet does feel upset for what he did but he still carries on his conversation with Gertrude before hiding Polonius’s dead body which shows that he does not feel guilty for his terrible act. “ I dare damnation: to this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence, Let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged, Most thoroughly for my father.”  In this quote, Laertes finds out about his father’s murder and he starts to feel angry and depressed because of this upseting news. He doesn’t care about anything else but to take revenge on Hamlet for killing his innocent father. He also plans to take revenge on Hamlet for Ophelia’s death because it was all because of Hamlet’s madness. ‘ No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize; Revenge should have no bounds”. This quote is said by Claudius when Laertes tells him that he would seek revenge on Hamlet no matter what happens to prove his love for his father. Laertes believes that there should be no limits to revenge and the king agrees with Laertes because now he can use Laertes in his plan to kill Hamlet. “ Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric: I am justly kill’d with mine own treachery.” In this quote, Laertes realizes that taking revenge was an immoral act and that he will eventually die as a consequence of his own attempt on revenge from Hamlet. Therefore Hamlet has committed a very big crime by killing Laertes father since he has killed a father of a son while he is the son of a father murdered.  

The last example of revenge from this play is when Fortinbras took revenge from Denmark. Fortinbras is determined to honor his father’s loss by gaining the territory that was rightfully theirs that King Hamlet had taken over from them in the past. “Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full, Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there, Shark’d up a list of lawless resolutes”. This quote is said by Horatio to Benardo and Marcellus after they see the ghost for the first time. Horatio says that the appearance of the Ghost might be a warning of a possible war that can occur with Norway over the lands lost in the battle with King Hamlet and Denmark. This quote talks about the major themes of the play which is revenge. Fortinbras wants to take revenge on Denmark for the death of his father by creating an army that could invade Denmark. In this quote, we get no know that Fortinbras is a young man that is quick in taking action to get revenge on those who killed his father. Hamlet has taken a longer period of time to take revenge on Claudius where as Fortinbras quickly seeked his revenge. “ On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice; So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less, Which have solicited. The rest is silence.” In this quote, Hamlet who is dying says that he will not live to hear the news from England but he believes that Fortinbras will win the election to the Danish crown. Hamlet also gives his vote to Fortinbras as he dies. At the end of the play, Fortinbras ​is the only character who benefits from seeking revenge because he does it in a more noble manner. Therefore, Fortinbras’s way of taking revenge was really distinct from the way Hamlet tried to seek revenge because he seeks revenge without thinking too much about his plans. He does it more quicker than Hamlet and succeeds in the end by doing so.  

In Conclusion, Revenge has been portrayed from the beginning of the play to the end by showing the different types of ways in which Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes tried to take revenge from each other. Revenge is immoral because it​ ​increases anger just like it did to Laertes but he eventually regrets it after killing Hamlet and asks for forgiveness for what he did before he dies. Hamlet also went through a lot of stress ,trouble, and thinking just so that he can kill Cluadius but he also eventually dies at the end. Almost everyone suffered in the play because of revenge which shows that revenge is harmful and devastating for everyone involved in it and people should just refrain from it and leave everything to God to handle.  

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