This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Revenge In Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1697 words - 7 pages

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is one of William Shakespeare’s most renowned works of literature. Published in the very early sixteenth century, the play remains to be the longest of all Shakespearean works and the most popular as well. Perhaps what is so appealing about this masterpiece, the tragic story of the death of King Hamlet, murdered by Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, who later marries Queen Gertrude in order to take the throne, and Prince Hamlet’s journey to exact revenge on Claudius for all he’s done to the kingdom, is the fact that revenge plays a rather large role throughout the play, being what motivates Hamlet to pretend insanity in order to succeed. Revenge is an important theme portrayed constantly throughout Hamlet, not only by the title character, but also by other minor characters.
The idea of revenge in Hamlet is depicted in various ways throughout the play. Shakespeare makes a fine job of identifying the different types of revenge by giving the characters different motives; whereas Hamlet and Laertes, almost mirrors of each other, both want to avenge the deaths of their fathers by killing the person responsible for the murder, Fortinbras seeks to avenge his father’s death by reclaiming the land that he lost to King Hamlet before dying. Also, the author goes further into the personalities of the characters and explores their motivations, most particularly Hamlet’s; although he has a scheme for killing Claudius, he does not set his plan into motion immediately, but is rather delayed by different events throughout the story, forcing the reader to contemplate whether or not Hamlet is as strong-minded and angry about his father’s death as he claims to be. Conversely, Laertes and Fortinbras waste no time and carry out their vengeance immediately.
In the fifth scene of the first act, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to his son to tell him exactly how he died; while sleeping in his orchard, Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, came in and poured poison into his ear. Once finished with his story, the Ghost asks Hamlet for one simple favor: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Lawall et al. 1799). The death of King Hamlet is foul as it was done while he was asleep, and unnatural because someone of his own kin committed it. Hamlet promises to fulfill the ghost’s request, which sets the play’s entire plot into motion. Afterwards, Hamlet advises his friends not to pay attention to his behavior from that point on, as he will put on “an antic disposition”; he will fake insanity to distract everyone from his actual motives.
However, whether or not Hamlet is actually insane or just pretending to be has been a subject of criticism by literary analysts. In his legal and metaphysical study titled “Is Hamlet Mad?” Newman Watts argues for the former. He presents his evidence in a very legal manner, accusing Hamlet of suffering from mental aberration, as evidenced by “his morbid temperament… his defective memory and illogical condition...

Find Another Essay On Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet

Morality and Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet

790 words - 3 pages Hamlet’s Denmark as described as being a prison, “[a] goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’th’ worst” (Shakespeare 1724, 241-242) sets the setting, which illustrates that Denmark is a dystopia in which people are enslaved. The world of Denmark is a world of injustice, revenge, . Hamlet’s world exudes Denmark’s injustice, revenge, and most importantly, its immorality. Hamlet, though argued to be a

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Why Revenge?

1094 words - 4 pages . William Shakespeare's Hamlet fully satisfies each of these traits, making it an excellent example of a revenge tragedy. Certainly, the most critical theme in the play by far is that of revenge; it fuels the plot and story of Hamlet, reveals the hamartia of the protagonist, and is used successfully to develop some of the main characters.   Anne Barton says, "As a structural and thematic center for tragedy, revenge has much to recommend it

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Pure Revenge Tragedy?

2013 words - 8 pages Hamlet – the Revenge Tragedy?         A baffling array of considerations relevant to the revenge aspect of Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet make an essay on this topic an interesting experience.   Ruth Nevo in “Acts III and IV: Problems of Text and Staging” explains the uncertain place which revenge occupies within the hero’s most famous soliloquy:   And conversely, because self-slaughter is the ostensible subject of the

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Going Beyond Revenge

1875 words - 8 pages Going Beyond Revenge in Hamlet        The simplest and superficially the most appealing way to understand Shakespeare’s Hamlet is to see it as a revenge tragedy. This genre was well established and quite popular in Shakespeare’s time, but it was precisely part of his genius that he could take old forms and renew them by a creative violation of their standards. As this essay will explore, Hamlet stands the conventional revenge tragedy on

Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Beyond Vengeance

1609 words - 6 pages Revenge in Hamlet        There is an old saying, "The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons." When the sons in question are Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras - pivotal characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet - one might wonder how each man's father affects their particular natures - their particular sins. While Hamlet could be considered a story in the vein of Cain and Abel; a jealous man who slays his brother, an allusion which Claudius

Problems in the Revenge Tragedy: William Shakespeare's Hamlet

3187 words - 13 pages Shakespeare's Hamlet presents the generic elements found in Renaissance revenge tragedies ("Revenge Tragedy"). However, although Hamlet is a revenge tragedy by definition, Shakespeare complicates the basic revenge plot by creating three revenge plots out of one. By adding significant innovations, Shakespeare creates "three concentric rings of revenge" (Frye 90), depicting an indecisive protagonist who is an intellectual rather than a physical

Hamlet and the Issue of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Play

2309 words - 9 pages Hamlet and the Issue of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Play The question of why Hamlet does not immediately avenge his father's death is perhaps one of the most perplexing problems faced by an audience. Each generation of viewers has come up with it's own explanation, and it has now become the most widely known critical problem in Shakespearean studies. A rather simplistic, yet valid standpoint to take on this

William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy

1798 words - 7 pages William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Revenge Tragedy was a genre which lasted from 1590 until 1615. The genre appealed to the Elizabethan audience’s desire for blood and violence without emotional depth. ================================================================== Revenge tragedies originated in the writings of the Roman Seneca (4BC-AD65) whose plays heavily influenced Elizabethan dramatists

Shakespeare's Hamlet - A Clear Revenge Tragedy?

2040 words - 8 pages Hamlet – a Revenge Tragedy?        Most of the revenge-tragic aspect of the Shakespearean play Hamlet is explicitly presented. Some is disguised as straight tragedy, for example, Ophelia’s insanity and death; and some is implied tragedy found in the history of verbal allusions.   In the essay “An Explication of the Player’s Speech,” Harry Levin discusses the implied tragic dimension of the “Hecuba” soliloquy:   But the

This essay is about how in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet's revenge wasn't an act on himself

1408 words - 6 pages In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses revenge as a major theme present throughout the work. Revenge plays a crucial role in the development of Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and Laertes, son of Polonius. All three men seek revenge for the murder of their fathers. Revenge can be interpreted as a separate character in Hamlet. Revenge is set to overcome anyone who seeks it. Initially, after each of the murders, every son had a

Revenge VS (Im)Morality in William Shakespeare's "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark"

1896 words - 8 pages mind and soul with which he will go about the revenge of remembering his father will be meditative and loving… Hamlet will remain of pure spirit and soul in all he does in pursuing the revenge of his father’s murder… (Polka 439) Therefore, despite all the internal and external struggles, “Hamlet proves himself to be the man of conscience,” (Polka 421) and keeps his promise of vengeance to the Ghost while keeping his conscience clear, his morals

Similar Essays

Revenge In Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

1426 words - 6 pages Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses revenge as a major theme present throughout the work. Revenge plays a crucial role in the development of Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and Laertes, son of Polonius. All three men seek revenge for the murder of their fathers. Revenge can be interpreted as a separate character in Hamlet. Revenge is set to overcome anyone who seeks it. Initially, after each

Procrastination Of Revenge In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

586 words - 2 pages Procrastination of Revenge in William Shakespeare's Hamlet In the play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, the protagonist Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, is deceived by many of his former allies, including his mother, Gertrude, and his lover, Ophelia. Perhaps the most deceptive of these former allies is Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius. Not only does Claudius kill Hamlet’s father, the King, but he also proceeds to marry Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude

Theme Of Revenge In Shakespeare's Hamlet

872 words - 4 pages The Theme of Revenge in Shakespeare's HamletThe Play Hamlet by William Shakespeare revolves around a constant need for vengeance; all beginning with the murder of Hamlet's father, who is killed before the play ever begins. The type of justice that seems to be prevalent here is and eye for and eye mentality, where killers must be killed. The plot twists and turns as people continually try to manipulate each other as a means to an end

Revenge And Vengeance In Shakespeare's Hamlet

916 words - 4 pages Revenge in Hamlet          Shakespeare's Hamlet is largely coordinated by connections, parallelisms and contrasts between intermingled families. In the play we see two families who are victims, as well as perpetrators, of revenge. The Polonius family is significant in key scenes and also in the language that the family members use. The theme of revenge is central to the play and there are four "cases" of revenge - three involving