Depiction Of The Theme Of Revenge Through The Main Characters In Hamlet

Revenge is the desire to punish someone in return for an action that caused wrong to someone else. In “Hamlet”, Shakespeare demonstrates this theme throughout the impulsive actions of the main characters. Throughout the play, Hamlet hesitates and overthinks everything. On the other hand, Fortinbras acts before thinking about the income of his actions. They both have the same goals but use different methods to achieve what they want. One cares about the well-being of the innocent people while the other does not care about who gets hurt in his process of gaining more power. In this dramatic play, Hamlet and Fortinbras are both acting impulsively and are becoming delirious to avenge their father’s death. They both acted at times they should not have while attempting to get their revenge.

Throughout the play, Hamlet hesitates and overthinks everything. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is approached by the ghost of his deceased father. The ghost begins to talk and explain to his son that his death was caused by Claudius. Hamlet Senior goes on and explains to Hamlet that his spirit is now banned to stay on earth until his death is avenged and that it is now his son’s responsibility to kill his uncle. He keeps questioning the ghost’s truthfulness and motives, which makes him seem even more deranged. In the story, Hamlet puts on a play for the citizens of Denmark. The storyline of his play was extremely similar to how the ghost explained the process of his murder. His motive behind the play was to see the reaction of Claudius; he wanted to read the King’s behavior in search of signs of guilt. While the actors are performing, Hamlet keeps saying comments to try to have a reaction from Claudius. When the King realizes what is going on, he stands up and makes the actors stop the play, which gives Hamlet the answer he was looking for. “Give me some light. Away!”. Hamlet’s choice of putting on a play in front of all his subjects was not the best idea since his madness is now revealed to everyone. It also made the crowd uncomfortable and Claudius pissed off. Before this event, Claudius still did not know what was wrong with Hamlet. However, now he knows that Hamlet is aware of the murder he committed. At this moment, he signed his death contract.

Fortinbras is a man that acts first and then thinks about the income. His father, Old Fortinbras, was killed by Hamlet Senior during a battle to conquer lands. During this duel, Old Fortinbras not only lost his life but also lost most of his Denmark land. Since that incident, the eligible King of Norway has the desire to avenge his father’s death and reconquer the land that his family lost. To do so, he comes up with a plan; after conquering Poland, he wants to attack Denmark even when he promised the king to pass peacefully. “Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king. Tell him that by his license Fortinbras Craves the conveyance of a promised march Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous. If that his Majesty would aught with us, we shall express our duty in his eyes; and let him know so.” He is obsessed with having more power and attacking other countries. He has a very manipulative personality and he lets his emotions of selfishness cloud his judgment of actions. When asking for permission to pass on the land of Denmark, his ultimate goal is to see if Claudius will be susceptible enough to accept to let him in his territory.

Hamlet and Fortinbras use two different tactics to achieve the result they want. While Hamlet puts on a play that refers to his father’s murder, Fortinbras asks Claudius to pass in Denmark to get to Poland. In a way, they both wanted the same thing; to see the reaction of their enemy to detect if they could take advantage of their weakness. On the other hand, they are using such different methods. One is honest and with no intention of hurting others, while the other is to purposely do bad to others.

After the play, Hamlet’s not trustworthy friends tell him that his mother wants to see him in her chambers. After regaining his cold blood, Hamlet goes to see her. Gertrude starts the conversations with a ton of questions. While they talk, Hamlet sees something moving behind a curtain. His first thought is that Claudius is spying on them to know what they are talking about. Without thinking twice, he runs to the curtain and uses a knife to stab want he thinks is the King. However, when the man falls on the floor, Hamlet realizes that it was Polonius that was hiding behind the curtain. His mother, panicking, starts to scream for help while Hamlet is still in shock of what just happened. “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers Could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.” After the incident, Hamlet starts to feel empathy for Ophelia. He realizes that he had killed the father of the woman he loves and once he learns that Ophelia passed away, he feels even more terrible because he knows that his actions drifted Ophelia to her madness. He wishes he could go back in time. He is also hesitant to avenge his father’s death, as we can detect while Claudius is praying, worrying that it will affect his mother. This shows that Hamlet does not only think about himself; he does care for others.

After conquering Poland, Fortinbras lies and instead of passing peacefully through Denmark, he attacks them with no remorse. Lucky for him, his attack is during a time of weakness for the Kingdom of Denmark, which makes it easier for him to reconquer the once-to-be land of his family. When he arrives in the palace, he perceives the dead King and Hamlet lying beside him. With no sympathy, he orders his army to bury them in the ground and does not even feel bad for these people. “And call the noblest to the audience. For me, with sorrow, I embrace my fortune. I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, Which now claim my vantage doth invite me”. Fortinbras does not care at all about lying. He takes advantage of the poor situation that Denmark is in to attack them viciously. He does not have good ethics or morals and is clearly a very selfish person.

While Hamlet is aware and guilty of his bad actions, Fortinbras could not care less. Hamlet murdered Polonius by mistake and he seems to regret it. However, Fortinbras decides to hurt Denmark’s citizens and takes the crown with no remorse. He does not care about the death of any of those who were affected by the madness that the murder of Hamlet Senior created. He only cares for himself and for the power he gets from it.

In this play written by Shakespeare, the characters of Hamlet and Fortinbras have the same goal; avenge their father’s deaths. However, while Hamlet overthinks everything and does not want to put anyone else but Claudius in danger, Fortinbras only thinks about the power he wants to gain and does not care who gets hurt in the way. Throughout the play, both characters acted at times they should not have. The madness and impulse of their will to avenge their fathers took control over their true selves. Even when using different ways to avenge their fathers, in the end, they both achieved their goal. 

16 December 2021
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