Hamlet As A Revenge Tragedy In Shakespeare's Hamlet

A revenge tragedy is a style of drama, popular in England during the late 16th and 17th centuries, in which the basic plot was a quest for vengeance and which typically featured scenes of carnage and mutilation. The first, and perhaps most popular of the revenge tragedies, is Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which two characters, Hamlet and Claudius, take revenge on each other, each having different motivations to do so. Hamlet defined the outline that every proceeding revenge tragedy would follow which included the development of major characters as avengers and the avenged, the structure of the play, and the question of morality in every aspect of the play create a thrilling story for the audience which ends with the demise of all the characters.…show more content…
The exposition usually has a ghost who provides a motivation for revenge to the main character. Obviously, in Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and prompts him to avenge his murder. The anticipation comes when Hamlet decides to have a play performed which reenacts his father’s death so he can watch Claudius’ reaction and “...catch the conscience of the king,” (II, II, 634). The dramatic irony involved with “a play within a play” is a common aspect of revenge, and even though the audience knows the truth behind the death of the king, they anticipate how Hamlet will act to Claudius’ reaction. The confrontation comes when Hamlet sees Claudius praying and decides to spare him at that time. This action also delays the progression of the play, as it allows for a second confrontation between Hamlet and…show more content…
Modern audiences see revenge as ill because it takes the law into inappropriate hands, but the idea of “an eye for an eye” in the Elizabethan time periods caused audiences to view the play in an honorable way. The plays also took place in foreign countries where audiences believed these barbaric methods of getting revenge were more likely and far enough away from their home country to ensure safety. Hamlet takes place in Denmark, so English audiences feel they are a safe distance away from where the tragic events are occurring to know that they do not affect them. Clearly, this distance justified the revenge to the Elizabethan audiences, however, modern audiences would find the actions of the avengers in Hamlet to go against law and

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