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Revenge In Two Literary Works

Powerful Essays
Revenge as a theme is cleverly built upon throughout Hamlet; with it being the driving force behind three of the key characters in the play. Revenge is a frighteningly vicious emotion, which causes people to act blindly and without reason. In Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado”, Montresor enacts revenge for reasons unknown. Hamlet in contrast, has all the motive in the world to complete his task; yet he constantly hesitates. The text reveals that the need for revenge creates a stranglehold on the genuine emotions, thoughts, and actions of three characters: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Laertes; son of Polonius, and Fortinbras; Prince of Norway. This hold makes the characters act beyond their standard ethical positions and makes them helpless to their plots of revenge. The sadness of losing a loved one makes the characters participate in acts they wouldn't normally carry out. The language Shakespeare presents suggests that the characters will do whatever it takes to avenge, immorally, without a sense of rationale; thus effecting their true morality. The real question is, why?

As we see in both stories, revenge is not an easy task to complete. Hamlet encountered many obstacles on the way to enacting his revenge. Hamlet reveals that promising the act of vengeance to oneself, or to the actual victim itself, creates an amplified need to carry out their plans. Hamlet, who swore to his father's ghost that he will kill Claudius for revenge, states:

“Prompted by my revenge by heaven and hell, must like a whore unpack my heart with words, And fall a-cursing like a very drab, A scullion. Fie upon't, foh! About, my brains!” (2, ii, 525-9).

This proclamation by the crazed Prince Hamlet suggests that the promise he’s made to his father is eating...

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...of revenge is that revenge is immoral, no matter the case; and that just because one thing is immoral, does not mean we need to recover with the same, immoral act.

Works Cited

Baraban, Elena V. “The Motive for Murder in "The Cask of Amontillado" by

Edgar Allan Poe.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature. Vol. 58. No. 2. 2004. pp. 47-62. Web. 24 October. 2011.

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Portable Literature. 7th ed.

Boston: Wadsworth Cenage Learning. 2011. 219-224. Print.

Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” Portable Literature. 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth

Cenage Learning. 2011. 947-1056. Print.

Skulsky, Harold. “Revenge, Honor, and Conscience in Hamlet.” PMLA. Vol. 85.

No. 1. Jan., 1970. pp. 78-87. Web. 24 October. 2011.

“The Cask of Amontillado”: Montresor’s Revenge – InfoRefuge.com." Info

Refuge. Web. 24 Oct. 2011.
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