Hamlet by Shakespeare: Hamlet’s Revenge and Hero’s Downfall

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Revenge causes Hamlet to act blindly through anger and emotion, rather than through reason As the play begins, Hamlet is in a grieving period over the death of his father, To make matters worse, his mother marries his uncle, the deceased King’s brother. Hamlet does not approve of this relationship and distances himself from hert After the apparition of his father appears to him, he feels compelled to restore family honor by enacting vengeance Throughout the play, Hamlet is confronted with the many choices he must make to avenge his father’s death These are the extremes that Shakespeare uses to enforce his theme that the pursuit of revenge will lead to tragedyt It all begins with the appearance of the late King‘s ghost to Hamlet’s friends Elizabethan tradition dictates that when a father dies by suspicious means, the male child must avenge their death. In act 1, as Bernardo and Francisco are standing guard, the late King‘s ghost appears to them.

They ask Horatio, a scholar, to confirm this sighting, This appearance indicates that the natural chain of being has been disrupted, resulting in chaos in Denmark. Horatio decides that they must inform Hamlet of what they have seen, Horatio speaks to Hamlet: Two nights together had these gentlemen, Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch, In the dead waste and middle of the night, Been thus encountered: a figure like your father, Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pie, Appears before them and with solemn march Goes slow and stately by them Thrice he walked By their oppressed and fear-surprised eyes Within his truncheon’s length, whilst they, distilled Almost to jelly with the act of fear, Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me In dreadful secrecy impart they did, And I with them the third night kept the watch, Where—as they had delivered, both in time, Form of the thing, each word made true and good.

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The apparition comes. I knew your father, These hands are not more like. In this passage, Horatio describes to Hamlet that the apparition was of his father, without a sense of ambiguity He compares the similarity of his own two hands to the resemblance of the ghost to his father, Hamlet decides he must speak to his father’s ghost himself, to see what he is longing for. Horatio, Francisco and Bernaldo all advise Hamlet not to speak to the ghost, but he disregards their warnings. That night, he goes to the guards platform and allows the ghost to tell him what happened, ‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused, But know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.” The ghost tells Hamlet he was poisoned by his brother, and requests Hamlet to avenge his murder, Hamlet feels compelled to accept this task, although he is fearful of it.

Even though he agrees to the request, he is hesitant to act until he has proof that his Uncle Claudius truly did murder his father. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” This is the question that plagues Hamlet throughout the entire playi Hamlet‘s inability to act is clear throughout the play and the main cause for his downfall, Unlike a typical vengeful character, Hamlet does not act impulsively but instead thinks about the consequences of his actions He overanalyzes his options which result in indecisiveness and cause him to miss multiple opportunities to claim revenge on Claudius. He constantly doubts himself and obsesses about whether the act he wants to take is justifiable After the ghost tells Hamlet about his murder, Hamlet is fluctuant about whether the apparition is trying to trick him into committing a murder, In order to establish Claudius’ guilt or innocence, Hamlet orchestrates a group of players to reenact his father’s death in the play “The Mousetrap”.

He says to Horatio: “As Vulcan’s stithy, Give him a heedful note. For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, And after we will both ourjudgments join In censure of his seeming.” Hamlet asks Horatio to watch Claudius, throughout the play, for any signs of guilt or deception As the play approaches the act where the king dies, Claudius realizes the connection and exits the theatre Horatio and Hamlet agree that this is a sign of guilt, and condemn him for the murder of the late king. Now that Hamlet knows the truth, he begins to plot his revenge, This is the point where Hamlet begins to act erratically After the play he sees someone behind the arras, draws his sword and stabs who he believes to be his uncle; however, it is Polonius. At this point, Hamlet has committed the very crime he was seeking to avenge When Claudius catches word of Hamlet’s action, he knows instantly that he is in danger and that Hamlet was seeking revenge, in retaliation, Claudius sends Hamlet away to Poland, believing that this action will protect him from his nephew, Instead, this trip strengthens Hamlet’s desire for revenge.

Once Hamlet returns from Poland, Claudius and Laertes conspire to challenge him to a duel, with a foolproof plan to kill Hamlet, His newly found inclination for revenge leads Hamlet to agree to this duel against Laertes, who is Polonius‘s son. Like Hamlet, Laertes is seeking vengeance for the murder of his father by Hamlett Claudius exploits this weakness and uses it to advance his own selfish reasons to escape Hamlet’s wrath. AS the duel begins, Hamlet and Laertes select their swords, of which Laertes’ has been coated with poison. The king declares that if Hamlet wins the first or second hit, he will drink to Hamlet’s health, then throw into the cup a valuable gem, which is actually the poison, and give the wine to Hamlet, The duel begins and Hamlet strikes Laertes but declines to drink from the cup, saying that he will play another hit first. He hits Laertes again, and Gertrude rises to drink from the cup.

The king tells her not to drink, but she does so anyway. In an aside, Claudius murmurs, “It is the poison‘d cup: it is too late”. They fight again, and Laertes scores a hit against Hamlet, drawing bloods Scuffling, they manage to exchange swords, and Hamlet wounds Laertes with the poisoned blade as well. The queen falls. Laertes, poisoned by his own sword, declares, “I am justly kill’d with my own treachery”. The queen moans that the cup must have been poisoned, calls out to Hamlet, and dies Laertes tells Hamlet that he, too, has been slain, by his own poisoned sword, and that the king is to blame both for the poison on the sword and for the poison in the cup. Hamlet, in a fury, runs Claudius through with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink down the rest of the poisoned wines Claudius dies crying out for help Hamlet tells.

Horatio that he is dying and exchanges a last forgiveness with Laertes, who dies after absolving Hamlet Revenge and justice is ultimately served to all, the adulterous, the murderers and those who became so consumed with revenge it lead to their own demisei Clearly each act of vengeance in this play results in supreme disasters There is a human desire to exact revenge when we feel wronged, and we can find many instances in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which seeking revenge is a fool’s mission. Good rarely comes of it and revenge damages and diminishes the perpetrator. Hamlet is spurred to get revenge by both the ghost of his father and his own internal feelings of anger, loss and jealousy. No good can come from acting on the impulse of revenge and vengeance. These emotions are best treated with forgiveness and timely justice.

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Hamlet by Shakespeare: Hamlet’s Revenge and Hero’s Downfall. (2023, May 11). Retrieved from


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