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Hamlet: A Study in Revenge, Duty, and Doubt

Date of publication: 2017-09-03 23:40

Hamlet shares the basic outline of a revenge tragedy. Hamlet's father is murdered by his uncle Claudius, and the play centers on Hamlet's quest for vengeance. But Hamlet treats the subject differently than revenge plays like those mentioned above. The heroes of those plays are men of action, and the plays are full of ever-increasing violence as they take their revenge. Hamlet, on the other hand, famously passes up an opportunity to kill Claudius early in the play and spends a lot of time reflecting on whether revenge is the proper path. This more thoughtful, introspective approach to revenge is highlighted in many of the famous passages from the play in which Hamlet contemplates taking his revenge.

SparkNotes: Hamlet: Act I, scene v–Act II, scene i

Compared to these characters, Hamlet’s revenge is ineffectual. Once he decides to take action, he delays any action until the end of the play. It should be noted that this is not uncommon in Elizabethan revenge tragedies. What makes 89 Hamlet 89 different from other contemporary works is the way in which Shakespeare uses the delay to build Hamlet’s emotional and psychological complexity.

Hamlet - Theme Of Revenge - Stratford College

This at first seems like a familiar scene from a revenge tragedy, as Hamlet finds out about the horrible thing done to his father and vows to 'sweep to my revenge' as quickly as possible. However, the passage also contains the seeds of Hamlet's doubt, as the ghost calls murder 'most foul' even at its best. This highlights a contradiction at the heart of all revenge tales. Revenge is seen as justice, but it is also a crime and possibly a sin as Christians like Hamlet are told to 'turn the other cheek' and not seek revenge. Hamlet, an intellectual and scholar, starts to ponder this concept and realizes that, even if he avenges his father, he will still be committing 'murder most foul.'

Hamlet Revenge Quotes Page 1

Hamlet, the tragedy of doubt, says Victor Hugo, stands in the centre of all his works. Geniuses of the first rank have the peculiarity that each creates a specimen of humanity. Each gives to humanity its own image, one a laughing one, another a weeping one, another again a thoughtful one. The last is the grandest. Plautus laughs and gives mankind an Amphitryo, Rabelais laughs and gives a Gargantua, Cervantes laughs and gives a Don Quixote, Beaumarchais laughs and gives a Figaro Moliere weeps and gives an Alceste Shakespeare meditates and gives a Hamlet Aeschylus meditates and gives a Prometheus. The former are great Aeschylus and Shakespeare are immeasurably so.

Although he does ultimately kill Claudius in the final scene of the play , it s not due to any scheme or plan by Hamlet, rather, it is Claudius’ plan to kill Hamlet that backfires.

Hamlet's troubles, like those of many people, began at home. His father was murdered and his mother disgraced the family name by the indiscretion of an early marriage. There is an explosive element in domestic affairs which works ruin, once the fire reaches the powder.

Meanwhile, Laertes has returned from France to find that his father, Polonius, has been murdered. He first blames the King, but Claudius places the blame on Hamlet. While speaking to Laertes Claudius suddenly receives a letter saying that Hamlet was alive and returning home. Claudius being opportunistic, finds yet another way to avoid killing Hamlet himself in Laertes.

Again, the advent of the ghost into Hamlet's life influenced his artistic temperament and disarranged his mind. Ghosts are poor friends. They are not safe counselors. The two worlds are closely related and influence each other, and the spiritual life is as real as the human life seen by our eyes. But keep away from ghosts. Beware of buying stocks or dealing in real estate at the advice of the spirits of your dead ancestors, and when they rise up and insist that you wreak vengeance on their enemies--beware!

Here, the Ghost claims that he's doomed to suffer in Purgatory (often imagined as a fiery place where souls had to "purge" their sins before they could move on to heaven), until Hamlet avenges his "foul and most unnatural murder" by killing Claudius. Uh-oh. Major problem alert: First, the doctrine of Purgatory doesn't say anything about murder helping Purgatorial souls get to heaven —prayers, sure, but not vengeance. Second, after the Reformation, Protestants rejected the idea of Purgatory as a "Catholic superstition." You can check out our discussion of " Religion " for more on the play's religious crisis, but here's the point: as a Protestant, Hamlet might see the ghost as just a wee bit suspicious.

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However, on a spiritual level, Claudius reaches out in aid for forgiveness and pity. Especially in this instance, he is begging for forgiveness, this is the first and last time as the audience that we witness Claudius in a twist, he is unable to spin himself out of completely. The characters in the play assume roles in order to hide themselves. Claudius appears to be a grieving brother, concerned uncle and lawful king, but in reality, a he is a murderer and usurper.

Hamlet is a tragic play. The appearance of the dead King's ghost marked the beginning of the tragedy as after persuading Hamlet to avenge his death, everything fell apart in Denmark. In the process of killing King Claudius, who was responsible for the King's death, some innocent people also died. King Claudius's marriage to Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude disturbed Hamlet. At the same time Denmark is under threat of attack from Fortinbras, whose father was killed by the late king Hamlet and had come to avenge his father's death. In the end, every major character died except for Prince Fortinbras of Norway who ended up being the only heir to the throne of Denmark.

Claudius repeatedly blackens Hamlet in his conversation with Laertes and subtly compares his acts to Hamlet's sinful and unacceptable behavior that has progressively led to Polonius and Ophelia's death. Claudius's revenge is like a disease without a cure, it festers and becomes an ugly sore, incurable and irrepressible, and his bloodthirsty hunger for taking Hamlet's life is all he wants and even if it is to the detriment of the current state of Denmark. (Edward. P 7558:57)

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