Hamlet - The Theme of Revenge

Powerful Essays
“Hamlet,” Critical Essay

Alexander Pope believed that, “to be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves.” I think this is pertinent to “Hamlet,” by William Shakespeare because the main character is portrayed to bring great mental suffering upon himself in his search for revenge. Shakespeare enhances the reader’s appreciation of the play by effectively conveying its theme of revenge through characterization and plot in addition to other literary techniques.

Hamlet,” tells the story of a Danish prince who aims to avenge his father’s murder after his ghost appears before Hamlet and reveals that he was murdered by his own brother. To Hamlet’s disgust, his uncle, Claudius, has stolen Hamlet’s place as King by marrying the prince’s mother, Gertrude. In Hamlet’s search for the truth, he makes the fatal error of stabbing Polonius, the King’s advisor. Polonius’ death causes his daughter, who is Hamlet’s former lover, to go insane. Polonius’ son, Laertes, decides to take revenge upon Hamlet for his father, and Claudius sees an opportunity to get rid of his nephew. He sets up a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes, then poisons Hamlet’s drink and Laertes’ rapier.

Hamlet needs verification of his uncle’s murder of the former king before he can take revenge upon him, as he has a fear of the metaphysical consequences of murdering a man who has done nothing wrong. He seems to be wary of his father’s ghost and the allegations it makes about Claudius’ regicide. The ghost first appears in the play before Horatio, who is Hamlet’s friend, and two guards of Elsinore castle. Hamlet is then told by his father’s ghost to avenge his death after he follows the spirit into the forest. In Elizabethan times, when Hamlet was writte...

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...enges his father’s death, the consequences are harsh. He has to watch his mother die and realises he has used Laertes own weapon to kill him. His death is, of course, the saddest consequence of his revenge. Hamlet’s murder of Claudius improves the reader’s appreciation of the text as they understand that although Hamlet is moribund, he has avenged his father’s murder, which is what he set out to do in the first place.

I think that “Hamlet,” is a thought provoking play. It made me think about what I would do in Hamlet’s situation, and how I would handle the burden of vengeance of a loved one’s murder. I believe that although times have changed significantly since the first performance of “Hamlet,” in 1607, the themes are still relevant to audiences today. Shakespeare effectively depicts many different aspects of revenge in an interesting and fascinating way.
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