The Extreme Pursuit Of Revenge In Hamlet Revenge
Revenge is an action which causes one to act blindly and recklessly through anger rather than reason. The act itself can be devastating not only to the individual being sought against, but also to those who surround them. In The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare, revenge becomes the reason for Hamlet’s selfishness and eventually the cause of his death, as well as the deaths of others around him. Throughout the play, Hamlet is faced with many decisions he must make and he uses extremes to illustrate the theme that seeking revenge leads to tragedy and selfishness.
As Hamlet is planning to avenge for his father’s death, revenge does not go as planned and unfortunately others are affected by it. For instance, Hamlet makes a pass through the arras and kills Polonius, saying, “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.” (3. 4. 29), assuming it was Claudius. However, as a result of Polonius’ death, Ophelia commited suicide, and Laertes now wishes to kill Hamlet to seek his own revenge. Laertes and Hamlet are both infatuated (obsessed) with revenge to the point at which they will act without thought and neglect the consequences. Hamlet kills Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to save his own life and he does not regret it as he tells Horatio, “They are not near my conscience. Their defeat Does by their own insinuation grow. ’Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes Between the pass and fell incensèd points Of mighty opposites.” (5. 2. 65-69). Later in the play, Gertrude is mistakenly poisoned, Laertes and Hamlet are both poisoned, and Hamlet murders Claudius as he dies. Even though Hamlet is finally able to avenge for his father’s death, this revenge ends up in a tragedy. As for Laertes, he dies too when he tries to avenge his father’s death which just proves that revenge leads to tragedy. Similarly, in The Spanish Tragedy, a play written by Thomas Kyd, both Hieronimo, the Knight Marshal of Spain and his accomplice, Bel-Imperia die after the revenge is achieved. After Lorenzo, the son of the Duke of Castile and the nephew of the King of Spain murders Hieronimo’s son, Horatio, Hieronimo takes it upon himself to avenge Horatio’s death. However, this revenge results in the unexpected suicide of Bel-Imperia and Hieronimo also bites his own tongue out so he cannot be forced to talk. After being given a pen to write his confession by the Duke of Castile, Hieronimo uses it to stab and kill the Duke before stabbing himself to death. Throughout the play, the revenge is turned into a tragedy causing the death of many people.
Hamlet agrees to seek revenge for his father; however, that revenge becomes an act of selfishness. At the beginning of the play, Hamlet expresses how dissatisfied he is with his mother’s marriage to Claudius. He expresses it by voicing his frustration about Gertrude marrying Claudius just two months after his father’s death. In Act 1, Scene 2, Hamlet says, “Within a month, Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes, She married. O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1. 2. 158-162). In the quote above, Hamlet reveals his discomfort with his mother’s relationship, which pushes him to seek revenge. He demonstrates his passionate anger towards Gertrude by saying, “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.” (3. 4. 38-39). Hamlet begins to take out all the anger that had been built up since she married Claudius. This rage is so dangerous that even Gertrude cries for help. Hamlet only comes to a halt when the ghost of his father tells him, “Do not forget. This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. But look, amazement on thy mother sits. O, step between her and her fighting soul.” (3. 4. 126-129). Here Hamlet’s father reminds Hamlet that the purpose of this revenge is not to make himself feel better by hurting those who hurt him, but it is to take revenge on Claudius for his father’s death. Many people become so selfish when trying to seek revenge that they do it to help alleviate the pain. When they feel attacked, mistreated or socially rejected, they are motivated to seek revenge and harm the ones who have harmed them. When you ask people why they commit acts of violence, the most common response is that they are seeking revenge for something that someone has done to them (Virginia Commonwealth University “What leads certain people to seek vengeance? Sadism”). As a result, when people think about revenge, they tend to think of themselves and those who hurt them which leads to being selfish.
In conclusion, the extreme pursuit of revenge causes tragedy and selfishness. Despite the fact that Hamlet is able to take his revenge and kill Claudius, he causes seven other deaths including himself. In addition, Hamlet forgets the real purpose of the revenge and becomes selfish as he demonstrates his passionate anger towards Gertrude due to her marrying Claudius.