Themes of of Morality and Revenge in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” Essay

Themes of of Morality and Revenge in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” Essay

Length: 1156 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The use of contrast helps portray the concepts of morality and revenge in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. The foil between characters further develops the concepts and characterization, providing an additional layer of meaning behind the play. Contrast can mainly be observed between Hamlet and Claudius, and Hamlet and Fortinbras. The contrasted characters mentioned play a major part in developing a main theme throughout the play, that being moral corruption. Moral corruption can be seen through the state of Denmark as a whole, as well as simply in the family unit Hamlet is exposed to. Either way, the contrast between characters demonstrates how morally corrupt the ideas surrounding the play really are.
As Hamlet struggles to find the meaning behind morality, we see a clear contrast between his ideology and Claudius’. Hamlet is unable to decipher exactly between what is wrong and what is right; and although he considers himself a person of good intentions, he tends to find the line between right and wrong blurred on many occasions. As the play progresses, it can be noticed that Hamlet becomes much more inward. He finds that he overthinks every detail about his life, and his future involving revenge, as he says “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (III.i.83). The irony of this statement is found in the fact that he is upset with himself for not taking action and being a coward; however by doing this he is overthinking the situation. While the play progresses, it is seen that Hamlet’s inability to act is his demise. So, a clear contradiction in Hamlet’s character can be recognized. He contradicts himself often when it comes to the idea of revenge; as he considers it to be immoral to kill someone, but at the same time disc...

... middle of paper ...

...chooses to uphold immorality. The contrast between Hamlet and Claudius is deliberately exposed to enhance that idea by showing that neither man is able to choose morality over immorality; thus providing a clear-cut example of moral corruption in man. Also, the notion of revenge takes on the contrasted viewpoints of obtaining honor between Fortinbras and Hamlet. While Hamlet gets pulled further and further into the perceived need of honor, Fortinbras is able to abstain from moral corruption and keep his dignity, and for this he is the only character that is strengthened at the end of the play and not dead. A message that can be conveyed from this tragedy is that those who mean well, and are not morally corrupt, will find themselves having a better stature in life. However, paralleling those who counter you is not only ironic, but also a sign of diminishing morality.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Revenge in Hamlet and The Revenger's Tragedy Essay

-     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]

Better Essays
3225 words (9.2 pages)

Marxist Themes Of Hamlet By William Shakespeare Essay

- ... It only makes it worse now that Claudius is the King of Denmark and has the authority to rule over everyone, only caring about keeping his own power. The lower classes feel powerless, and that is what Hamlet feels when his uncle becomes king, when it should have been Hamlet who was next in line to become king. Denmark is in a state of wicked internal proceedings throughout the whole play. This leads Hamlet to think of Denmark as "soiled", which gives Hamlet a bad connotation of everything that is going on around him....   [tags: Marxism, Sociology, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude]

Better Essays
1361 words (3.9 pages)

Themes of Love and Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Themes of Love and Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet Love is one of the most powerful themes in Hamlet, but a superior force - REVENGE, drives Hamlet's love. Revenge of his father's murder. Hamlet is confused and melancholic over the fact that his mother married his own uncle and so quickly after his father's death. Even though he does not immediately suspect foul play in his father's untimely death, he is in a state of shock. As Kenneth Muir states, "He (Hamlet) is profoundly shocked by Gertrude's marriage to his uncle in less than two months after her first husband's death, although he has no conscious suspicion that his father has been murdered or that his mother had committed adultery."...   [tags: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays]

Better Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)

Comparing Hamlet And Hamlet By William Shakespeare Essay

- ... Although these characters have different standards when it comes to revenge, they both immediately blamed and directed their anger towards Claudius when they found out their father’s were dead. Hamlet’s reason to blame Claudius is simply because he is his father’s murderer. In 1.5 while Hamlet is talking to the ghost of his father he says, “Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift/As meditation or the thoughts of love/May sweep to my revenge” (Shakespeare 1.5.31-33). At first is seems as if Hamlet would seek revenge right away because he seems eager to find out who the killer is and when he does find out he says he knew it was Claudius all along....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude]

Better Essays
1710 words (4.9 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Hamlet Is A Tragedy That Revolves Around Three Central Themes

- Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragedy that revolves around three central themes. These themes are death, betrayal, and revenge. In order to both advance the plot and produce character motivations, Shakespeare uses a plethora of literary devices; including foreshadowing, imagery, symbolism, and indirect characterization. These devices have the additional effect of conveying a sense of suspense and danger, while also offering psychological insight into the characters’ minds. One of the most widely used literary devices in Hamlet is foreshadowing....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude]

Better Essays
1187 words (3.4 pages)

Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Shakespeare's Hamlet is a tale of mortal revenge, lost souls, love and infidelity, and murder in the royal family. Hamlet, his father having recently died, is mourning the marriage of his mother to his uncle. When his father's ghost appears to him and tells him he must avenge the former king's spirit so that it may pass on to Heaven, he decides to put on an "antic disposition" so that no one will know what he is thinking. As time goes by, he cannot move himself to act upon his revenge and is tormented by his indecisiveness and ineptitude....   [tags: Hamlet William Shakespeare]

Better Essays
1503 words (4.3 pages)

Essay William Shakespeare 's Hamlet - Madness

- ... She starts to believe he has really gone mad, and that he truly does not care about her anymore. This also becomes a problem for the kingdom, as Hamlet is a royal and the heir to the throne, so having madness could be potentially calamitous for all of them. Shortly after Hamlet’s rant at Ophelia he runs into his two childhood friends, rosencrantz and guildenstern. They had been sent by Hamlet’s uncle and mother in order to find out the truth behind his madness. Hamlet realised that they were sent by Claudius and takes it as a chance to further convince everyone of his madness....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Gertrude]

Better Essays
1500 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about Revenge in Hamlet

- Throughout the play of Hamlet by William Shakespeare it becomes apparent that revenge isn’t really worthwhile if you die in achieving it. Hamlet Sr. was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who then became king of Denmark and married his sister-in-law, Hamlet Sr.’s queen. Upon Hamlet’s discovery of the act of treachery he wants his revenge. In trying to accomplish it he kills an innocent man, Polonius. In result, the daughter of Polonius and former lover of Hamlet, goes mad and kills herself. The deaths of the innocent father and daughter cause another to seek revenge, Laertes....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature]

Better Essays
555 words (1.6 pages)

Conflict in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essays

- An individual’s response to conditions of internal and external conflict is explored throughout literature. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare delves into the themes of appearance versus reality, lies versus deceit, rejection versus self doubt and tragedy, and in doing so attacks the frivolous state of humanity in contemporary society. In order to explore these themes, however, he uses several forms of conflict to project his opinions and expand his ideas relating to the themes of the play. Internal conflict, as well as external conflict are dominant features of his works, and in Hamlet are made evident through a succession of dire events which can attack and destroy someone....   [tags: William Shakespeare Conflict Essays Hamlet]

Better Essays
2442 words (7 pages)

William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Essay

- William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a Revenge Tragedy Revenge Tragedy was a genre which lasted from 1590 until 1615. The genre appealed to the Elizabethan audience’s desire for blood and violence without emotional depth. ================================================================== Revenge tragedies originated in the writings of the Roman Seneca (4BC-AD65) whose plays heavily influenced Elizabethan dramatists. Seneca’s tragedies, using stories derived from mythology emphasised bloody action, horrific incidents and ranting speeches....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1241 words (3.5 pages)