Hamlet Revenge: Marred Play

The tragedy of Hamlet is considered one of the most remarkable writings of William Shakespeare. Written between 1599 and 1601, it is considered one of the longest plays ever to be written by Shakespeare. However, an eminent theme of the play is that of revenge. The protagonist in the play, spends considerable amount of time contemplating revenge, rather than actualizing it. However, his inability to avenge the death of his father is one of the crucial aspects that keeps the plot captivating. It leads to the deaths of several people, including Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, Gertrude among others. It is essential to understand the theme of revenge and how it plays out in Hamlet.

However, before contextualizing the revenge conundrum of Hamlet, one of the issues that contemporary studies have considered is the reason for the delay in his actions. Hamlet has a legitimate reason for avenging the death of his father as a way of retaining the status quo; however, this does not happen as fast as possible. Hamlet appears to sustain some kind of emotional, intellectual or psychological flaw that prevents him from fulfilling such task. Then again, to embrace the inability of Hamlet to take actions for his role, Shakespeare introduces other characters in the play—characters that are resolute and headstrong and can take action. For instance, one of the characters is Fortinbras who walks several miles to revenge and ultimately conquers Denmark. Comparing these characters to Hamlet, it is evident that Hamlet’s revenge is highly ineffectual—although happens ultimately. However, it is crucial to understand the need for the delay and how Shakespeare uses it as a way of building the emotional and psychological complexity. The revenge is an afterthought—and to a large extent, anticlimactic.

The three main characters in the play seek revenge against for the reasons they feel do hold water. These characters include Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes, who are up in arms to avenge the death of their loved ones (Merritt). However, it is the revenge plotted by Hamlet that is majorly pronounced in the play. Hamlet intends to avenge the death of his father after meeting the ghost. Through the conversation with the Ghost, he realizes that Claudius killed his Father through poisoning. This factor makes Hamlet so eager to seek revenge against his uncle. However, Hamlet gets to a dilemma of doing what is ethical—whether to seek revenge or not of his father.

The dilemmic conversation with the ghost increases the desire to revenge. The main character is at a crossroads whether to believe in the words of the ghost or not. Further, Hamlet strikes a plan in order to make his uncle, Claudius, guilty. “The plays the thingWherein ill catch the conscience of the King.'(Shakespeare 12). He comes up with a play in order to watch the reactions of Claudius. In the trap, Hamlet plans to look at the reactions of the uncle. Further, if the play haunted the uncle, he is guilty of killing the father (Merritt). However, the inability to show emotions towards the father dismantles the plans to avenge his father’s death.

The inability to take action is the central pillar of revenge in the text. Hamlet and other minor characters cannot make resolute decisions to avenge the death of their loved ones as anticipated. Further, the plot by Lacerates to avenge Hamlet for the death of his father does not also see the light of the day (Jamieson). The inability to make resolute decisions points out the need for vengeance in the text. Hamlet's revenge against the father’s death is ineffectual. There are other intentions by various characters to enhance vengeance in the text. However, as compared to Hamlet's pilot to kill Claudius, the tactics seem to lack basis. Further, such kind of delay is eminent in most of the plays written during the period of Elizabeth. The delay is a result of psychological and emotional incapability (Jamieson). Consequently, the idea of revenge becomes just an aspect of an afterthought.

Hamlet's revenge is delayed compared to the actions taken by Fortinbras and Laertes. Hamlet delays his actions for a considerable period. Hamlet loses many chances when he can kill Claudius, but he returns his sword. Most of the opportunities exist when Claudius is praying. This Hamlet fears that Claudius may go to heaven if he is killed while praying (Jamieson). The inability to make concise decisions delays the need for revenge.

Additionally, the Characters are baffled by their inability to act against the killing of their loved ones. Hamlet rebukes himself after watching his play. In the play, the actor weeps as a sign of sorrow and pain. The actor presents to Hamlet that he has a shred of overriding evidence to avenge his father's death. From a soliloquy, Hamlet realizes that he has no reason for a delayed act of vengeance for the father's death. The delay is exemplified even when he has Claudius is at his disposal but fails to avenge. The dilemma expressed by the soliloquy, 'To be, or not to be—that is the question. 'Whether 'tis nobler in mind to Suffern the outrage of the sharp arsenal and fears destiny or decide to' (Shakespeare 33). It is evident from the text that Hamlet is interested in the ethical concern of killing Claudius and his life to be.

The emotional conversations intrigue the need for revenge. Hamlet organizes a play with the intention of awakening the mother’s conscience of having married her husband’s killer (Fears). In the play, a sleeping King is killed through poisoning, and the wife is married to the brother. “Do you?” “I cannot go against nature like the sea.” (Shakespeare 50) The mother complains about why Hamlet had to play the story. However, Hamlet questions the mother and wants to know why she hates the play. Nevertheless, the King is outraged and scorns Hamlet for having displayed such plays in the House. The play is intended to awaken the mother is sleeping conscious to join hands and fight Claudius. He is alleged to have killed the father.

The killing of Polonius also points out the need for vengeance. Hamlet decides to confront the mother over her blindness to the husband’s death. However, he is intercepted by creation movements which he believes are Claudius. Further, he stubs the individual who is believed to be eavesdropping. However, it becomes clear that the individual behind the curtain was Polonius (Fears). Consequently, the Killing of Polonius indicates the inward need for Hamlet to avenge the father’s death.

There is a connection between the order and instinct of Killing. The instincts of murder precede all the murders that happen in the text. The Killing of King Hamlet by Claudius is significant source of Murder instincts. Claudius's act marks the beginning of killings that overshadows the play. A poisonous goblet kills Gertrude. Further, King Claudius is also killed by the same sword. Moreover, Larter also loses his life through the same sword. The death occurs because of the vice of the need to avenge (Haque 58). The play exhibits revenge instances which make it chaotic.

The appurtenance of a ghost is significant in vengeful plays. It is through the ghost that the heroes learn of the wicked persons in society. The ghost acted as an adviser to Hamlet to enable him to take vengeance for the father’s death. Further, through the ghost, Hamlet learned that it is nobody but Claudius who organized the death of his father. The image appears to several characters before it finally dawns on Hamlet. The climax of the story is evident when King Hamlet’s ghost reveals to Hamlet that Claudius killed the father. After this event, Hamlet decides to ensure that he pays back for the father’s death. Further, he made several attempts, pondering and finding the best avenues to avenge his father’s death. Moreover, it downed on Hamlet, he is the only person who can take revenge against his father’s death. “And so, I am revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father, and for that, I his sole son, this same villain send to heaven”. (Act III, Scene iii) (Shakespeare 34). The words, therefore, indicate the desire that Hamlet has to avenge his father’s death.

In conclusion, Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius is a source of frustration to Hamlet. Hamlet cannot get over the fact that his mother is married to the culprit of the father’s death. This action even leads to a situation when Hamlet almost runs mad. Father, accidentally as enabled by the conversation with the mother. Besides the death of her father, Ophelia gets shocked and commits suicide in the river. The revenge context in the royal family is the primary source of chaos in most high-end society members. Further such action of revenge also touches on other members of the society outside the context of the royal family. (Haque 5-59). The actions of the major characters would enable a consumer of the text to conclude that the play is marred by revenge. This conclusion is in line with the inference of most of the Elizabethan plays, as posited earlier in this text. Therefore, the play Hamlet was considered as a total and absolute revenge play with tragedy

Works Cited

  1. Fears, Rufus, J. “What Hamlet Teaches Us about Revenge.” The Great Courses Daily, https:www.thegreatcoursesdaily.comwhat-hamlet-teaches-us-about-revenge. Accessed 18 April 2021
  2. Haque, Farhana. “Revenge and Vengeance in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: A Study of Hamlet’s Pursuit and Procrastination Regarding Revenge.” OSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS). Retrieved from. http:www.iosrjournals.orgiosr-jhsspapersVol. 21 Issue9Version-9I2109095559.pdf. Accessed 18 April 2021
  3. Jamieson, Lee. “Hamlet and Revenge.” ThoughtCo. Retrieved from https:www.thoughtco.comrevenge-in-hamlet-2984979. Accessed 18 April 2021
  4. Merritt, Alyssa. 'Revenge.' Shakespeare I. Retrieved from. https:hawksites.newpaltz.edufall2015eng40620151120revenge. Accessed 18 April 2021
  5. Shakespeare, William. 'Hamlet: [1604].' Oxford Text Archive Core Collection (1991).
07 July 2022
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