The Need for Revenge: Hamlet and The Butcher Boy Essay

The Need for Revenge: Hamlet and The Butcher Boy Essay

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Revenge is considered by many, sought by some, and carried out by few. It consumes the avenger and what is left is madness. The theme of revenge is depicted in many works of literature. Two great examples of this theme would be The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe and Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s play the character of Hamlet is looking to avenge the murder of his father King Hamlet and in McCabe’s novel the character of Francie Brady seeks for revenge for almost everything that has happened to him, from the death of his mother to the loss of Joe’s friendship. Often the question of whether revenge is justified arises. In Hamlet’s case I see revenge as being justifiable because his motivations are strong, but things get complicated quickly, which result in tragedy. On the contrary I do not believe Francie’s acts of revenge are justified because his motivations for revenge are unjustly placed on Mrs. Nugent; his acts of revenge result in harm to himself as well as the person on whom he places all the blame.
The combination of distress and anger motivates Hamlet to avenge his father’s murder. The first thing that is learned in the play is that King Hamlet had recently died. As a result Hamlet felt an overwhelming melancholy. This is apparent in his soliloquies. He states, “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / seem to me all the uses of this world!” (1.2.133-134). Life to him is pointless and tiring. It’s been two months and he is still grieving to a point where it is not sane. This melancholy combined with the anger he felt with the remarriage of his mother to his uncle so quickly after his father’s funeral was a bad combination, but what pushed Hamlet over the edge was the encounter with the...


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... and his friendship with Joe began to end. The next act of revenge was when he actually killed Mrs. Nugent and as a result he got sent to “the garage” where he is sent into isolation and he does not get out.
The time periods and location for Hamlet and Francie are very different. Shakespeare’s play Hamlet written in the Elizabethan era was set in Denmark around the 1600s while McCabe’s The Butcher Boy was set in a town in Ireland around the 1960s. The difference in time makes a difference being that in the 1600s revenge especially within the family was seen as to be justifiable




Works Cited

McCabe, Patrick. The Butcher Boy. New York: Delta, 1992. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet Prince of Denmark. Literature: An Introduction to
Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 12 ed. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Diana Gioia.
New York: Pearson.1396-1508. Print

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