Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Essay

Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Essay

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Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy

Revenge tragedy was a brief sub genre of tragedy at the end of the
sixteenth century, despite some clashes with the teachings of the
church. In a revenge tragedy a crime, normally murder, has gone
unpunished, because the criminal has too much power and cannot be
reached by the law. This fact is revealed by a ghost to someone
closely connected with the victim, laying on him the responsibility to
revenge the crime. The revenger is usually an outsider who lacks
access to the criminal, who is at the centre of a completely corrupt
court. Poison plays a large part and methods of killing are intricate,
insidious and imaginative. The revenger dies at the end of the play,
as he has gone against religion by taking the power of revenge from
God. There will be many other deaths as the corrupt court is cleansed.
Revenge tragedies contain visual references to death such as
graveyards, bones and skulls. Most revenge tragedies have an Italian
setting and Machiavellian characterisation.

One example of a revenge tragedy is 'The Spanish Tragedy' by Thomas
Kyd (c1590). This play has a revenger lacking access to the criminal,
finally carrying out the revenge by intricate means and dying in the
process.

'Hamlet' is a play, which is essentially about seeking the truth. From
the very beginning Hamlet is trying to find the truth about life and
death. The opening scene of the play begins to suggest many questions,
such as the reasons why Hamlet's father died, which are to be
answered. Hamlet continues throughout the play to seek the truth and
reasons for people's actions. He is a deep thinker. This
characteristic becomes...


... middle of paper ...


...t' is very much a play of three dimensional characters. The deep
psychological character studies and universal themes of matters such
as truth, lies, life and death make it a timeless piece, which has
outlived other revenge tragedies. To call 'Hamlet' merely a revenge
tragedy is to look at a single aspect of this multi-faceted drama. In
most revenge tragedies the revenger is a fairly simple character but
in 'Hamlet' we find a depressed man, a philosopher and a character who
is heavily religious presented with a dilemma in which his duty
conflicts with his qualms. Hamlet is the character who makes this play
what it is. The central character who should be cold and devious is
one who longs for death and debates which is worse, killing himself or
killing Claudius.

Bibliography

Jenkins, Harold (ed.), 'Hamlet' (1982)

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