Hamlet and a Long Way Down Essay

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Hamlet, an iconic play written by William Shakespeare’s starts in 1600 in Denmark, Hamlet is the main character who seeks revenge on his father’s death after killed by his brother Claudius, so he could obtain the throne and Gertrude the queen. Long way down, a story written by Jason Reynold is about a young black teen boy who recently lost his older brother at the hands of gang violence and later seeks revenge for his murderer. Hamlet and Long Way Down both convey a similar theme that revenge is a destructive, uncontrolled emotion that eventually if you seek it, it causes emotional, physical harm to those people around you by using multiple literary devices. However, Shakespeare develops this theme by depicting character development between Hamlet and Laertes while Reynolds uses motifs.

Through the character of Hamlet, the theme of revenge can be seen after the king’s death (Hamlet’s father) Hamlet’s experienced the betrayal of his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they decided to start working for Claudius, “To lay our service freely at your feet To be commanded”, (Hamlet 2.2.30). Hamlet shows us the moral thoughts and principles of existence that goes behind the choices he makes. Hamlet fights within, in him revenge is first exercised in words. He cries outs, “What an ass am I!… prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell. Must like a whore, unpack my heart with words, and fall a-cursing like a very drab.” (Hamlet 2.2) Through the character of Laertes, we are able to see how he is against Hamlet since he knew about his affair with Ophelia (his sister). He is introduced in the play already with certain hate towards Hamlet. Before he left for France, he asked Ophelia to not trust Hamlet’s will of wanting to marry her. Laertes later finds out Polonius was murdered by Hamlet, he is enraged by the news, he then swears revenge after he also found out his sister had drowned herself. Laerte’s way to seek revenge is an active way when Hamlet’s revenge is first worked out in thoughts.

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In Long Way down, The motif of the story is the rules that Will talks about. The Rules are the law in Will’s neighborhood and in his life. They are simple: no crying, no snitching, revenge. The Rules are referenced throughout the novel as Will attempts to follow them, seeking revenge for Shawn’s death. ‘Passed to him. Passed them to his little brother. Passed to my older brother. Passed to me. The Rules have always ruled. past present future forever.” The Rules talk on when a person’s loved one is killed, the person must find the responsible one and get revenge for their loved one’s death. As Shawn was killed in a gang-related incident the night the story begins with Will intent on following the Rules by killing Carlson Riggs the responsible for Shawn’s death. In both story and play, many characters died due to being involved in the destructive emotion of revenge. In Hamlet Laertes, Hamlet, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia die because of Hamlet seeking revenge for his father’s death and it costs others many more to die. In a long way down, as Will rides the elevator to go kill the person who killed his brother, he encounters the ghost of his dead family members telling him how they all got killed by following “The rules”. In the end, both characters Hamlet and Will hesitate to kill their enemy who they are seeking revenge from and not end up doing it.

In conclusion, Hamlet and Long Way Down both convey a similar theme that revenge is a destructive, uncontrolled emotion that eventually if you seek it, it causes emotional, physical harm to those people around you by using Motifs and Character development. Literature can work from different eras (1600 England and 2017 U.S. ) that can share timeless styles and themes because literature is timeless for as long as people have written down certain aspects of our humanity that have been universal. So for as long as literary work allows readers to relate to the characters and their struggles. Revenge is a classical theme.

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