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Plays About Revenge

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Vengeance, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “[t]he act of avenging oneself or another” (Def. 1.A.) and appears as a common motive to many characters throughout plays during Renaissance times. This idea of vengeance and revenge is present in many of Shakespeare’s plays, notably his most famous play Hamlet and also The Tempest. Both plays really have a strong focus on vengeance and getting revenge on someone, but these ideas are quite different today than they were in Shakespeare’s time. Within this essay, it will be discussed how vengeance and revenge are apparent in both Hamlet and The Tempest. Also, the differing ideas on vengeance and revenge in today’s society versus Renaissance times will be discussed.
Within the play Hamlet, the ideas of vengeance and revenge are very apparent. In fact, Hamlet “is in a grip of an inner compulsion” (Greenblatt 106) where he is obsessed with this idea of getting revenge for the death of his father, which he learns about the murder in Act I by his ghost. This is also when the audience learns how the current king, Claudius, killed his own brother with ear poison. During the last few scenes of Act I, the ghost has Hamlet follow him through the forest so that they can speak in private. Before King Hamlet’s ghost tells Hamlet the truth about what happened, he says, “So art thou to revenge when thou shalt hear” (1.5.8). He is telling Hamlet that he will want or need to get revenge after the story he is about to hear. A few lines later the ghost tells Hamlet, “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.25). This is a critical point in the play because the ghost is telling Hamlet that he must get revenge for the horrible murder that had occurred.
As for Shakespeare’s supposed fi...

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"Retribution." Def. 1b. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2013. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2008. 1330-1381. Print. Later Plays.
---. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2008. 116-204. Print. Later Plays.
"Vengeance." Def. 1a. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
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