Humanity’s most motivational instinct is revenge. It is this inclination that is the catalyst which has brought about pivotal historical events forever shaping society today. Revenge is a defining characteristic of humans, intent on inflicting harm upon another who has wronged them in some way. It is this internal lust for reprisal which William Shakespeare explores in the play Hamlet to create the ultimate ambition of the protagonist. Each of Hamlet’s actions brings him closer to enacting his retaliation against his father’s killer. The repercussions of his actions, however, dramatically alter the storyline as other characters suffer and change, such as Ophelia, due to his actions. Hamlet’s carelessness in turn, creates a second revenge plot which lives within the heart of Laertes. Both Hamlet and Laertes have ambitious goals which take two extremely different paths, both however, resulting in death and destruction. Through the actions and words of the characters, the plot establishes a recurring theme of revenge, which drives the storyline to new heights.
Hamlet is spurred into taking revenge by his recently departed father’s apparition upon the battlements at Elsinore castle. The ghost uses Hamlet’s honour and love to charge the Prince with the task of redeeming his father in the afterlife, saying to his son, “If thou didst ever thy dear father love-/... Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” With the recognition of the task, Hamlet’s reply came without delay, “As meditation or the thoughts of love/ May sweep to my revenge.” (Hamlet. 1:5.27-35). Honor in Hamlet is partially based off of respect and love a son has for his father. As a result, the ghost uses this to ensnare Hamlet to do the task set befo...
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...ects others around them negatively as a by-product resulting in the bereavement of innocent, as well as guilty souls. Both Hamlet and Laertes have revenge plots created throughout the play, each fulfilling their aspirations but at the cost of many lives destroyed and eradicated. Shakespeare calls into question whether the inner lust of revenge is truly worth the destruction that follows in the wake of the action being enacted. Both sons of murdered fathers thought that the reward is worth the cost, ultimately forfeiting their lives in the process. Many people today fall to the temptation of revenge at the cost of relationships, family, careers, love, as well as money and in some cases, human lives. Shakespeare creates an act around the lessons and consequences of taking vengeance, allowing for future generations to surpass the mistakes of those who came before them.
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