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Characteristics Of A Revenge Tragedy

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Revenge tragedies became popular in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Hamlet, one of the most loved and well-known Elizabethan revenge tragedies, was written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1600-1601. In this play, Denmark has just won the war against Norway when King Hamlet defeated King Fortinbras. Unfortunately, King Hamlet dies soon after winning the battle. Less than six months after King Hamlet’s death, Queen Gertrude marries her deceased husband’s brother, Claudius. Prince Hamlet does not approve of how quickly his mother has moved on, and he is disgusted by her incestuous behavior. One night while Prince Hamlet is standing guard with his best friend, Horatio, the ghost of his father appears before them shortly after midnight. Prince Hamlet is shocked, but eager to follow the ghost. When the two are alone together, the ghost of King Hamlet reveals to his son that he was murdered by his own brother, Claudius. The ghost asks Prince Hamlet to avenge his murder and kill Claudius. The prince is infuriated and even more disgusted with his mother; therefore, he is…show more content…
Hamlet becomes worried that the ghost who appeared to be his father may actually be the devil. When Hamlet realizes a group of actors are on their way to perform for the kingdom, he concocts a plan that will determine Claudius’s fate. Hamlet decides to ask the actors to reenact the murder of his father so that he can carefully observe Claudius’s reaction; consequently, he would “catch the conscience of the king” (2, 2, 584) if he is truly guilty of murder. The play begins and everything is fine, until the actor who portrayed the king is “poisoned.” After the death scene, Claudius immediately stands up and the play comes to a halt. It is obvious that the play has upset him. After Claudius’s apprehensive reaction, Hamlet knows that the ghost is indeed his father and he must finally avenge his