The Cycle of Evil in Shakespeare's Hamlet

The Cycle of Evil in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The Cycle of Evil in Hamlet           

In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare illustrates how revenge can ravage one’s mind.  Revenge, put in simple terms, is an act of inflicting harm or injury in return for a wrong. [Obvious?] Both Hamlet and Laertes vowed to seek revenge for the murders of their fathers.  In doing so, they weren’t making right what was once wrong, but instead they were returning the same evil that had been inflicted upon them.  Revenge isn’t good or sweet when it is in fact evil continuing to repeat itself.


     William Shakespeare helps bring this point to the forefront by using the Ghost of King Hamlet as a foil to Hamlet. The Ghost is used to give Hamlet someone to talk to in order to understand him more.  These two characters both express their revulsion of Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius.  [You need to cite from the text here, particularly for the Ghost.] Also, both King Hamlet and Hamlet were brought to their deaths at the hands of poison, although King Hamlet had the poison poured in his ear by Claudius while sleeping.  On the other hand, Hamlet was poisoned with the point of Laertes’s rapier during their duel.


     The Ghost brings about two different perspectives of Hamlet.  First, Hamlet can be viewed as a loyal son.  Hamlet is prepared to avenge his father’s murder before the identity of the murderer was made.  [He is?] After the Ghost reveals Claudius as his murderer, he demands that Hamlet does not punish Gertrude in seeking revenge against Claudius.  Hamlet doesn’t get revenge against Claudius until his mother dies after drinking the poison in the cup that was originally intended for Hamlet to drink. [Ergo, does he get revenge for his father, or for his mother?]  On the other hand, Hamlet doesn’t necessarily fulfill his father’s wishes.  Although unintended, Hamlet “punishes” Gertrude by slaying Polonius before her eyes.  Thus evil deeds were to continue to repeat themselves. [I don't see the repetition here.Which "evil deeds" are you referring to?]

     Another character used as a foil to Hamlet was Laertes.  Both Hamlet and Laertes had endured the lose [loss] of their fathers at the hands of a murderer.  Both character[s] sought revenge for these murders.  Laertes immediately wanted to kill Hamlet for his crime, expressing how he would cut his throat in the church.

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  On the other hand, Hamlet was more passive in his revenge.  Instead of seeking out Claudius to kill him, Hamlet instead knelt down in prayer. [A lot more could be said about Hamlet's passivity in seeking revenge, a whole lot more.]


     In looking at Laertes and Hamlet, one would get the sense that their “friendly” duel  is their evil rage coming to the forefront.  Both men had been seeking revenge for their father’s murders.  Hamlet tried to apologize to Laertes for murdering Polonius.  Laertes declined his apology for the single fact that he didn’t want his reputation tarnished for failing to seek revenge for his father’s murder.  In turn, Hamlet sought revenge of his father’s murder, but it wasn’t his reputation he would tarnish, it was “punishing” Gertrude which made completing his revenge timely.  ["timely"?] Only after Gertrude’s death did Hamlet complete his revenge on Claudius.  The evil trend continued again, ending with the deaths of Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius, and Gertrude. [The discussion of the foils doesn't appear to relate to your thesis; instead, you appear to just be using the plot sequence to support your thesis.]


     In seeking revenge, one is in fact continuing an ongoing trend of evil.  William  Shakespeare displayed how revenge can be fatal for those who seek it.  Hamlet and Laertes clearly fell victim to the evils of revenge.  How can one make right what was once wrong when they continue to do wrong?

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