Revenge Tragedy In Hamlet

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“While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself” (Douglas Horton). This quote by Horton relates to Hamlet because it speaks of revenge, and Hamlet is a revenge play. The main character, Hamlet, while seeking revenge seals his own fate, and like the quote says while trying to kill someone else ends his own life in the process. Hamlet is a traditional revenge play, it focuses on the plot of revenge but also has subplots that distract the main character from the larger point of the story. Shakespeare was one of the first to expand the revenge tragedy, using what he and everyone knew and intensifying it. He did this by giving his main character many different sides, not just making him two dimensional. These many sides to Hamlet distract…show more content…
This definition fits Hamlet almost perfectly. Hamlet’s revenge plot starts when the Ghost of Hamlet’s father visits him from the dead, “ Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.. Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched” (I.v.23-25). This starts the main plot of Hamlet, which is for him to avenge his father’s death by killing the new king, his uncle, Claudius. Hamlet at first did not know whether he should believe the ghost or not, questioning whether it was really his father or a devil sent from hell. Hamlet questioning the integrity of the ghost is apart of what gives Hamlet’s character depth. By him not just going right into the act of revenge, he is showing he puts thought into his actions. “I’ll have these players Play something like the murder of my father before my uncle. I’ll observe his looks, I’ll tent him to the quick. If he but blench I know my course” (II.ii.50). This quote shows another aspect of Hamlet’s depth and thought because he wants to know for certain his uncle is guilt instead of just assuming. He decides the way to find this out is to have actors put on a play that reenacts his father’s death. If his uncle reacts to the play then he knows he is guilty, and that me must act. By pursuing the truth first Hamlet reveals he is smarter than most. Although this is a revenge…show more content…
In most stories the hero does not stop before his actions to contemplate the aftermath, however Hamlet does this. He puts thought into what he does so that his soul does not go to hell, “He must consider whether his actions will lead him to be saved or damned. The fact that an eternity is at stake in his deeds gives him good reason to consider their consequences” (Cantor 38-39). This quote from Cantor’s critique brings to light Hamlet’s thoughtfulness in acting on his revenge. Hamlet is very concerned with making sure his soul does not go to hell, he wants to make sure that he is not dammed by avenging his father, and almost does not commit the act because of this concern. The first time Hamlet got the chance to kill Claudius he does not take it, “Now might I do it pat, now ‘a is a-praying; And now I’ll do it - and so ‘a goes to heaven, And so am I reveng’d. That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven” (III.iii.71). Here Hamlet is saying that if he kills Claudius while he is praying there is a chance that his soul could go to Heaven. He does not want to take that chance because then Hamlet would be doing the opposite of what his father had asked, yes he would be dead but he would be in heaven instead of spending eternity in hell. These thoughts of Hamlet’s delay him from what he is trying to do. If Hamlet would have
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