Revenge in Hamlet

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Shakespeare’s plays, among other classic works of literature, tend to be forged with the tension of human emotion. The archetypical parallel of love and hatred polarizes characters and emphasizes the stark details of the plot. More specifically, the compelling force of revenge is behind most of the motives of Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. The play opens with the return of Hamlet’s father, a surprising encounter, which ended in his son learning that his father’s death was the result of foul play. By emphasizing this scene as the beginning of the story to be told, Shakespeare clearly implies that the plot itself will be based around the theme of revenge. Through three different instances of behavior fueled entirely by vengeance, Shakespeare creates an image in the reader’s mind, which foreshadows the future of the story and provides insight into the plot line. Even so, despite the theme of revenge being the overarching concern of the plot, the parallels drawn between characters truly strengthen the thematic depth of the piece overall, making the play easily one of Shakespeare’s most infamous and historically valuable works.
In the most general sense, the setting of Hamlet is one of complete turmoil, a direct result of a series of festering vengeances, which dominates the majority of the play. The kingdom of Denmark faces a very real threat outside of the internal power struggle between Hamlet and his untrustworthy family. The king of Norway, Fortinbras, wishes to take over the Denmark in an act motivated purely by revenge. Hamlet’s father killed Fortinbras’ in a battle, which took place before the time of the play. This, of course, is the threat of vengeance, which becomes a constant throughout. Even outside of the immediate famil...

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...underscore the stupidity of allowing oneself to become completely consumed by violent emotion.
Shakespeare’s vast utilization of plot devices allow the story to develop in a riveting manner. The presence of vengeance as one of these plot devices appears consistently throughout the play, representing the deceitful, suspicious nature of the characters. The tragedy is built on the festering wounds of broken families and vengeful sons. Through the irrational behavior of these characters, Shakespeare foreshadows what can only be a dismal ending. Nearly all the characters die to avenge the life of another, tossing their lives away to obsessive and needlessly bloody deaths. These incredible usages of thematic imagery truly support Hamlet as one of the greatest independent pieces of classic literature, and in many ways explains how the text has survived the test of time.
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