In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, revenge is a common theme throughout the play. Almost every major male character in the play, whether it is Prince Hamlet, Laertes, the Ghost of King Hamlet, or King Fortinbras of Norway, is acting with purpose to avenge a death. The obvious exception to this trend in the play is Claudius, King of Denmark and brother of King Hamlet. Instead of possessing a noble or vengeful purpose throughout the play, Claudius is instead motivated by more evil qualities like his greed and deceptive natures. But despite his solidified role as the antagonist to Prince Hamlet, Claudius’ degree of true villainy is more so in question. Claudius shows traits that stray from traditional idea of a heartless, animal-like villain working for evil, while also representing villainous qualities of the foulest kinds that ultimately overpower his humane soul. This complexity in Claudius’ character helps Shakespeare transcend the traditional villain.
Unlike traditional villains, facts suggest that Claudius does have conscience, despite not following it. Though his negative qualities ultimately overweigh the good that he attempts to magnify to the public, the King shows certain qualities like his ability to care, love, and express his guilt that are somewhat hidden to the people of Denmark. He seems to think of highly of Polonius’ opinion and is also kind to Ophelia. His love for Queen Gertrude is one of the more intriguing aspects of the play because it could be seen as his tragic flaw. He explains to Laertes why he does not seek justice against Hamlet after the killing of Polonius, saying “The Queen his mother lives almost by his looks…my virtue or my plague…I could not by her” (4.7, 13-18). This reluctance to get ri...
... middle of paper ...
...acter and create somewhat of a new kind of villain. While Claudius is a lustful, greedy, corrupt, manipulating, deceiving murderer that will stop at nothing to achieve his own powerful ambitions, he also has a lighter caring and loving side that he shows to the public. Though unbeknownst to the public his omissions of guilt would be seen as positive if not for his immediate declination for achieving forgiveness in favor of keeping his power, queen, and fortunes. It is things like this that make Claudius such a complex character. He acknowledges that there are right and wrong things to do but often refuses to do the right things because doing wrong is more beneficial to him. He is a selfish villain who does not commend the use of evil but rather the results. By portraying Claudius this way, Shakespeare manages to transcend the traditional view of a villain.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Romans 12:19, from the NIV Bible, states “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). This verse emphasizes that one should not take revenge into his own hands, but rather let God handle it. God’s wrath will eventually catch up with those who do wrong, and it is not one’s place to seek revenge. By seeking revenge, it makes them the villain as well as the victim. Shakespeare highlights the victim becoming the villain in the revenge tragedy, Hamlet.... [tags: shakespeare, hamlet]
1142 words (3.3 pages)
- Hesitation in William Shakespeare's Hamlet In Shakespeare?s Hamlet, a ghost tells Hamlet that his uncle, Claudius, is responsible for the death of his father. Hamlet is driven to reveal the truth of his father?s death and seeks to avenge his murder to achieve justice. In his quest to right the wrongdoing, Hamlet delays acting toward justice for many reasons. The main factor for Hamlet?s hesitation is attributed to his self-discipline. He lacks of ability to act on his emotions. Hamlet is an intelligent, moral, and reserved character.... [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]
1085 words (3.1 pages)
- Significance of the Ghost to William Shakespeare's Hamlet In Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', the ghost plays a key role in influencing the destinies of the other characters. The ghost is important to the play as it symbolizes both fate and catalyses the plot. It also brings the play into the revenge tragedy genre, which allows foreshadowing to occur and helps the audience, both Elizabethan and contemporary to better understand the play and appreciate it. The late King Hamlet is forced to roam the earth as he was murdered before he could confess to his sins, having to remain in purgatory till his sins are washed from him and he is able to enter into heaven.... [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet]
1576 words (4.5 pages)
- Hamlet's Anger and Morality in William Shakespeare's Hamlet In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet is faced with emotional and physical hardship. The suffering that he endures causes his character to develop certain idiosyncrasies. Morality has a significant importance to Hamlet. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet possesses a strong sense of morality. A sense that is stronger than all other characters. Hamlet's actions and feelings are controlled by his morality. His morality grows weaker as the play progresses.... [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Essays Papers]
1538 words (4.4 pages)
- For a play to be considered a revenge tragedy, revenge has to be a prevalent theme throughout. Revenge needs to be intertwined in character interactions, and have a strong hold on the driving force of the plot. The desires of Hamlet, Laertes, and young Fortinbras each exhibit how the plot of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare revolves entirely around revenge. The theme of revenge starts off very early in the play, when Hamlet speaks with the ghost of his deceased father. When the ghost tells Hamlet how Claudius murdered him, Hamlet is infuriated and overtaken with feelings of responsibility to right the wrong that has been done; to murder Claudius.... [tags: Hamlet, Shakespeare]
871 words (2.5 pages)
- The Reluctance of Hamlet toward Killing in William Shakespeare's Hamlet The reluctant character Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has become one of the most cited characters in history. Throughout Shakespeare's play Hamlet knows what he must do, but avoids it in his mind. The problem is: why does hamlet delay in avenging his father's death. Hamlet is afraid. He is afraid of failure. Hamlet tries to play off his fear by blaming outside circumstances, like doubting the existence of the ghost when he knows in his heart it is true, and not having the right opportunity to exact revenge.... [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Papers]
1198 words (3.4 pages)
- Death, Illness and Decay in William Shakespeare's Hamlet William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is full of talk about death, dead bodies, murder, suicide, disease, graves, and so forth. And there is no traditional Christian comfort or promise of eventual justice or happiness for the good people. But the message is ultimately one of hope. Hamlet is also definitely no saint, however, unlike most of the other characters in the play, he chooses not to compromise with evil. Near the end of Act I, Scene IV, as Marcellus and Horatio are deciding to secretly follow Hamlet and the ghost, Marcellus remarks “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Death, illness and decay are one of the central theme... [tags: Hamlet essays]
825 words (2.4 pages)
- The Flaw of Hamlet Many Shakespearean scholars, including A.C. Bradley, believe that the character Hamlet is an over analytical person, always "unmaking his world and rebuilding it in thought" (A.C. Bradley). It is argued by many that Hamlet's tragic flaw is his inability to accept things the way they are presented, thus criticizing everything in the world around him. Hamlet delves deep into what he believes is the reality of each of his given situations and searches for answers which he never finds.... [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet]
683 words (2 pages)
- Shakespeare's Presentation Of Claudius In Hamlet 'Hamlet' opens with the death of Old King Hamlet, Father of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The new king, Claudius, brother of the previous king has married Gertrude, the dead man's widow and has taken the throne. Shakespeare presents Claudius as the plays 'damned smiley villain' although he does allow him some redeeming features; leading an audience to view him as a complex and contradictory figure within the play. After Old King Hamlet dies Claudius is crowned king of Denmark and talks to the people as though he has sympathy and is saddened by his brother's death 'and that it is us befitted to bear out hearts in gri... [tags: William Shakespeare Tragedy of Hamlet]
1666 words (4.8 pages)
- Hamlet And Revenge Revenge has caused the downfall of many a person. Its consuming nature causes one to act recklessly through anger rather than reason. Revenge is an emotion easily rationalized; one turn deserves another. However, this is a very dangerous theory to live by. Throughout Hamlet, revenge is a dominant theme. Fortinbras, Laertes, and Hamlet all seek to avenge the deaths of their fathers. But in so doing, all three rely more on emotion than thought, and take a very big gamble, a gamble which eventually leads to the downfall and death of all but one of them.... [tags: William Shakespeare Hamlet Revenge Essays]
985 words (2.8 pages)