Revenge in Hamlet

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In his play Hamlet, William Shakespeare frequently utilizes the word “revenge” and images associated with this word in order to illustrate the idea that the pursuit of revenge has caused the downfall of many people. He builds up the idea that revenge causes people to act recklessly through anger rather than reason. In Hamlet, Fortinbras, Laertes and Hamlet all seek to avenge the deaths of their fathers. Hamlet and Laertes manage to avenge their father’s deaths and in doing so, both rely more on their emotions rather than their reasoning, which eventually leads to their downfalls at the end of Hamlet.

As the play begins, Hamlet is in a grieving period over the death of his father. What makes it worse is that only a few weeks after the horrible and untimely death, Hamlet's mother, the Queen of Denmark, remarries Hamlet's uncle, the deceased King's brother. "Thrift Thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables," (1.2.180-182). Hamlet exclaimed to his best friend Horatio. The wedding of his mother Gertrude with Claudius and his father’s funeral were so close together it brought great disarray and sadness to Hamlets heart and also caused him to be suspicious about its haste. The suspicions that Hamlet began to have would later play a major role in the usage of revenge in the play Hamlet.

Hamlets’ suspicions are clarified when he witnesses with his eyes and ears his fathers’ ghost and what it has to say to him. It clarifies to Hamlet about his untimely death and reveals the person that murdered him, Claudius. “But this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love —”, (1.5.21-23)…The ghost at this poin...

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... devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand that both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes; only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father.” (4.5.130-136).

The murder of Polonius by Hamlet brings gives yet another son a motif to seek revenge on his father’s murderer. Polonius like Hamlet lets his feelings govern his decisions and does away with his reason. Laertes decides to avenge his fathers death in a dual with Hamlet in which both get poisoned by the same sword and are killed. Their rage and anger led influenced their decisions up until this point and even though both managed to avenge their father’s deaths, they both ended facing the consequence which is death. Fortinbras having obeyed his uncle and holding back his rage and anger saved himself from the consequences of revenge.
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