Hamlet's first thoughts after learning of his father's murder are of an immediate, violent revenge upon Claudius. However, his subsequent actions do not live up to these resolutions. Over four acts he takes little deliberate action against his uncle, although the ghost explicitly demands a swift revenge. In S. T. Coleridge's words, Hamlet's central weakness is that he is "continually resolving to do, yet doing nothing but resolve".
Hamlet's first soliloquy, following a hostile conversation with Claudius and Gertrude, shows him grief-stricken, bitter and despairing. The source of Hamlet's melancholy is "his father's death" and the "o'er-hasty marriage" of his mother and uncle. He feels he has to do something, but he does not know precisely what. He expresses his disgust at his mother's inconstancy and incestuous remarriage, but is bound to suffer in silence: he must "hold [his] tongue" for reasons of diplomacy. The world seems empty, and he uses imagery of corruption, darkness, disease and imprisonment to reveal his state of mind. At the beginning of the play, all Hamlet sees is a terrible situation which he has no power to change.
The ghost's command therefore gives Hamlet purpose; a reason to live. Its instruction is unmistakable: "if thou didst ever thy dear father love...revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." The apparition, armed "from head to foot", then relates the story of Claudius' treachery in graphic and horrible detail. It is now apparent to Hamlet what is "rotten in the state of Denmark". Shakespeare makes it very clear what Hamlet's duty is and who his enemy is. Hamlet is charged to avenge his father's murder and free Denmark from the shadow of the king's fr...
... middle of paper ...
...e. N.p.: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.
Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: Univ. of Delaware P., 1992.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html
West, Rebecca. “A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- `Hamlet' is no doubt one of the greatest literary works ever written. William Shakespeare presents in it complexity of human nature and examination of human behavior. After reading this drama one of the main questions we have to ask is ` Why does Hamlet delay?'. Why does he wait so long before taking revenge on Claudius for killing his father. While answering the question about postponement we have to take under consideration few aspects. First of all let us start with probably one of the most popular theory, which is mental weakness and lack of physical strength.... [tags: European Literature]
727 words (2.1 pages)
- Taking revenge against his enemy can be a difficult task for young Hamlet, especially when the circumstances and conditions he is under require him to reevaluate his morals of life and soul. The delay in Hamlet’s revenge of his father’s death is caused by three main reasons: he is under strict and almost impossible guidelines laid out by the ghost of his father, King Hamlet, he is afraid of death either suffering it or inflicting it on someone else, and his lack of reasoning in committing a murder that he did not witness himself.... [tags: Shakespearean Literature ]
1600 words (4.6 pages)
- Revenge is one’s desire to retaliate and get even. Human instincts turn to revenge when loved ones are hurt. But, these misdeeds of taking upon revenge may lead to serious consequences. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet,” Fortinbras, Hamlet, and Laertes’s each show how their desire for revenge unavoidably leads to tragedy. The loss of their loved ones caused these characters in Hamlet to take action. Young Fortinbras has built an army to get back the lands his father lost to King Hamlet and Denmark.... [tags: Hamlet Essays]
1222 words (3.5 pages)
- Hamlet's Delay The question of why Hamlet delays in taking revenge on Claudius for so long has puzzled readers and audience members alike. Immediately following Hamlet's conversation with the Ghost, he seems determined to fulfill the Ghost's wishes and swears his companions to secrecy about what has occurred. The next appearance of Hamlet in the play reveals that he has not yet revenged his father's murder. In Scene two, act two, Hamlet gives a possible reason for his hesitation. "The spirit that I have seen / May be a devil, and the devil hath power / T' assume a pleasing shape" (2.2.627-629).... [tags: The Tragedy of Hamlet Essays]
684 words (2 pages)
- ... When first prompted by the ghost to, “Revenge [your father’s] foul and most unnatural murder,” (I, V, 31), Hamlet’s morality causes him to refrain from taking any hasty measures. Also, he decides not to murder Claudius while he prays, since Hamlet honors his religious action. Clearly, Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death by eventually killing Claudius, and his hesitation represents the structure of a typical revenge tragedy. Five distinct portions of the plot (exposition, anticipation, confrontation, delay, and completion) makeup every revenge tragedy, and they are especially prevalent in Hamlet.... [tags: Hamlet, Gertrude, Tragedy, Characters in Hamlet]
1111 words (3.2 pages)
- Most of the plays of Shakespeare are said to be written based on the desires of his contemporary audience, especially the revenge tragedies. Revenge creates anger and compels a man to take actions without considering any logic. In historical revenge plays, revenge does not only mean punishing the person(s) liable for a past incident, but it is also aimed to capture the throne. From this point of view, Hamlet is not completely a revenge tragedy. The play is not only about Hamlet’s vengeance. Hamlet, Laertes and young Fortinbras as the eldest sons of their respective families individually have objectives to avenge the murders of their fathers.... [tags: vengeance, kill, power, revenge]
1049 words (3 pages)
- In Act I scene V, Hamlet is told by his father’s ghost to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” The ghost then goes on to tell Hamlet that as he was “sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me” and that “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.” Hamlet is told by the ghost to seek revenge, telling him that Claudius has corrupted Denmark and corrupted Gertrude, having seduced her in the foul lust of their incestuous marriage. The ghost urges Hamlet not to act against his mother in any way, telling him to “Leave her to heaven, And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, To prick and sting her.” Hamlet delayed in seeking revenge for his father because he... [tags: Hamlet, Shakespeare]
295 words (0.8 pages)
- In this study of revenge and revengers in two Elizabethan revenge tragedies the two plays I shall look at are Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, and The Revenger's Tragedy, by Thomas Middleton. I shall look first at the playwrights' handling of the characters of the revengers, and then at the treatment of the revengers by other characters in the plays. Although having similarities in their underlying themes, and in their adherence to conventions, these two plays present contrasting pictures of the figure of the revenger; Hamlet offering a far more complex treatment of its main character, and The Revenger's Tragedy appearing, in comparison, limited by the author's social message, and lacking... [tags: Elizabethan Revenge Tragedies]
3225 words (9.2 pages)
- William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest playwright of all time, authored a number of works consisting of sonnets, comedies, and tragedies. In his brilliant career, Shakespeare created literary works of art. What makes Shakespeare unlike any other writer of his time, or thereafter, is his ability to organize a realistic plot, manage themes, and develop characters within his works. As well, Shakespeare¡¯s ability to provoke feeling and reaction to his writing is also what sets him apart from other common writers.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
1599 words (4.6 pages)
- Revenge 1. In the play "Hamlet" [Title] . [sic] I will be explaining the use of foils in the play. The four foils I will be using are between: [no :] the ghost and Hamlet, Claudius and Hamlet, Laertes and Gertrude and finally Laertes and Hamlet. [As noted in class, foils are characters, not "between" characters.] 2. A foil is a minor character that either talks to support the major characer. [Frag -1] Or it is someone who is similar or one who differs from the major character. [A foil has to be both similar and different.] An example of someone there just for support are Laertes and Gertrude.... [tags: Essays Papers]
708 words (2 pages)